Microsoft: Be grateful for the data deluge

By Stuart Sumner
23 May 2014 View Comments
Microsoft

People today complain about the amount of information they have to store and potentially analyse as part of their jobs, but they should be grateful for the data deluge.

This is the view of Microsoft's chief envisioning officer, Dave Coplin, speaking to Computing earlier this week.

Further reading

"We complain about having too much information, but really the value hidden in this data is immense, and what we're complaining about is having too much of the stuff which will create our revenue in the future. That's mad!" said Coplin.

He argued that firms need access to the right tools to unlock this data, but also to develop the right culture.

"There needs to be a cultural change, people need to think differently about customers," Coplin began. "Not just in one dimension like transactional data, but look at the customer's social footprint, and who they're connected to.

"There are new revenue streams and business models hidden in this data, but we all lead customers down this same narrow path - talking about data in terms of 'business insight', and hoping it will help us to sell better. It's missing the point, it's like just using a modern computer as a calculator."

He continued: "You might have data that's valuable to someone else as a by-product of what you do, and there are loads of marketplaces where you could sell it.

"Or, connect it with other information. Weird things happen when you connect disparate data sets together."

Coplin gave the example of insurance firms, who long ago noted that customers who buy felt furniture protectors are much more likely to make their payments on time than those who don't.

"If you're collecting data for one purpose, think of other uses. Like if you put CCTV into your shop, yes you'll catch shoplifters, but you'll also get really useful information on customer footfall."

For Coplin, it comes down to the need for a "data culture" within an organisation. He explained that this is about equipping every employee with a sense of curiosity about data, with the tools to be able to find the value within it.

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