Like the vast ocean of consciousness that is the human mind, today, continuous streams of data flow from smartphones, computers, television, sensor equipped buildings and retail store cameras. Data is everywhere and its potential to understand human reaction is limitless. Already, many companies are exploiting this potential to gain a deeper, 360 degree understanding of their customers. I would like to refer to this as, ‘data consciousness’.
Big data recommendation engines are allowing Amazon and Netflix to make purchase suggestions based on interests and choices that customers have previously demonstrated. Some, like Target, have taken it a bit far to discover when women are pregnant by tracking purchases of unscented lotions, and used this information to offer loyal customers special coupons and discounts. The public sector’s use of big data has seen law enforcement predict the time and location of a future crime; biologists investigate gene pairs to determine traits such as resistance to certain diseases; and genomic analysts find links between air quality and health.
Data is valuable because it tells us stories in the form of information and insights. To maximize benefits from data, you want to know the whole story: where it begins, what happens and how it ends. This makes it imperative to manage and utilize data thoughtfully at every stage of its lifecycle.
IBM describes the lifecycle of data as a seven-step process:
To understand how data gains life and begins its story, consider the data trail left by a guest checking into a hotel. The data is created the moment the guest checks in; it is then used and shared with relevant process stakeholders; after the guest’s departure, stored, updated and archived for future reference, and ultimately disposed off once it is of no use to the hotel.
Smart organization and lifecycle planning of data can help companies stay one step ahead of their customers, anticipating their reaction to an offer with a high degree of accuracy, and taking timely actions that deliver business value.
‘Data consciousness’ of the lifecycle of data itself, helps create value in the digital age – through superior business practices.