This week in data – 11th October

It can be tempting for businesses to think of analytics and data as a catch-all – the type of movement that will transform their business no matter what. But that’s hardly the case, and a new piece in Forbes goes to lengths to explain why.

Billy Bosworth, CEO of DataStax, argues that it’s time to ask some “hard questions” about businesses’ relationship with data: how do you create value from that information? “Those who have figured it out have created new standards of customer experience across all industries. Everyone else needs to catch up — and fast.”

Bosworth’s most sobering argument is that businesses aren’t just competing on customer experience with their neighbours, but with data giants like Amazon and Netflix. To do that, personalisation is “critical”.

Through three methods, he argues, businesses can compete: creating a huge volume of data from different touch points, investing in real-time analysis, and creating actionable insights.

A similar piece in AdNews takes a step further, arguing that businesses need to ask critical questions before they start embarking on the plan of making data the centre of their business.

According to the piece, a recent survey of Australians found 86% say they don’t know what happens with information they provide to brands, and 92% said they worry that organisations lack secure systems to prevent that information being stolen.

How can a business combat those fears? Through five key steps, it says:

  • Understanding the sensitivity of the data you create
  • Defining what benefit the consumer will get in exchange for the data they provide
  • Knowing exactly what the data will be used for
  • Gaining trust and confidence from the consumer through an existing brand
  • Defining the power gap – is the information limited, and is it voluntarily given?

Only then, it argues, will businesses succeed in using data to create value and bring customers along for the ride.

In other news:

For all the talk businesses make about using big data, so few are actually achieving any real results. According to a recent survey from Dimensional Research, only 10% of businesses that actually run data projects have any mature data processes.

A new piece at the Smart Data Collective breaks down exactly why creating these huge projects is such a problem: the data quality is low, costs are too high, business needs can be overwhelming, the value of these projects is nebulous and there is a lack of industry expertise.

“Before companies can execute a successful mature big data program of their own, they first need to develop the infrastructure, tools and expert resources necessary” to overcome each challenging area, it argues.

The warning highlights just how difficult the jump has become from acknowledging data’s power to actually harnessing it.

Meanwhile, big data shouldn’t serve just the big: that’s the message of a new group formed by Cornell University in the United States. The team, made up for professors of computer science, mathematics and information engineering, is dedicated to finding ways to help businesses use data responsibly.

Its goals include how to guarantee the privacy of data and ensure decisions aren’t biased by race, gender or other characterisations – the group even wants to identify how data can help stop “fake news”.

Given the huge number of stories regarding the leaking and inappropriate use of data, no doubt many small businesses will eagerly be awaiting any insights on how data can be put to use in more efficient ways.

Worth a read:

Australian scientists are using connected devices – including smartphones – to build complex models that could help treat infectious diseases. Cosmos.

Want to share data about your customers with a third party? Here are 10 questions your business should ask before it does. The Conversation.


Do you want to take part in FUELD, Westpac’s data accelerator program? Applications close on October 30th!

Eight data-focused teams will form an elite cohort, working through a 12-week mentorship program from Stone & Chalk Sydney. They will receive $50,000 in investment via a SAFE note, $100,000 in hosting from Amazon Web Services, introductions to potential customers and relevant experts, free access to anonymised, tokenised Westpac Group data, along with negotiated access to other data sources through the Data Republic platform.

Visit today for more information, or to join one of our briefing sessions in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

Until next week.

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