Extending data beyond the walls of your company

By Damien Brophy, Vice President EMEA at ThoughtSpot.

Companies are only scratching the surface when it comes to providing data visibility to their extended ecosystem of customers and partners. With data more ubiquitous than ever before, it’s not a question of if users want to explore insights, but how will businesses enable it?

So companies do understand the value of empowering their entire organisation, from frontline employees to their executives, with the ability to access data. As Harvard Business Review research points out, doing so improves customer satisfaction as well as work quality and productivity. But there's a massive opportunity for companies who don't just think about data as an asset for their internal decision makers, and instead, focus on creating an ecosystem fuelled by data.

Every kind of organisation can build a better data ecosystem and use their own and third party data to increase customer satisfaction, engagement, and company profitability for other organisations. Data science and analytics is a sophisticated field, but it has dramatically opened up and the technology has consumerised to the level that even front line workers in any profession - whether on a PC at a desk, or through a mobile device on the shop floor - can ask questions of their ‘ecosystem data’ to solve problems and take the right action at that precise moment.

Effectively harnessing data on the frontline can also create massive upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Because of this the embedded analytics market is projected to grow from $40.09 bn in 2020 to reach $104.71 bn by 2027. These opportunities include better understanding of customers, partners, and the market; and making decisions better fitted to reality, from selling more, to lowering costs.

So whether you are an existing data enthusiast, a technology leader that sees a big opportunity to continue the digital transformation of your organisation, or a business executive looking to scale up their organisation by leveraging an otherwise untapped resource, the benefit of extending data to others outside your company will open new revenue and opportunities beyond your normal business operations.

So, assuming your internal opportunities to use data are well in hand, here are ways to extend the value of your data and benefit from it being put to use by other consumers beyond the walls of your organisation.

Opening up to your ecosystem: Embracing a mind-set shift

Part of this project includes a mindset shift, going from thinking of data as a precious resource only to be protected and hoarded, and instead, thinking of data like a commodity such as water or electricity. These become more valuable and able to be monetised when shared broadly with the world. From ‘knowledge graphs as a service’ to user data mastery, concordance, and the Modern Analytics Cloud, it’s possible to create more effective connections between the business and its data, and supercharge innovation.

Imagine a use case such as a ticketing app business. They could use that data, enrich it with weather data and offer a product that helps local merchants optimise marketing campaigns when they know there's going to be heavy foot traffic for a concert, sporting event, etc

Anonymised data on where purchasers were based could help tailor public transportation provision, policing, and how local caterers and hotels supply and prepare for event attendees.

Or a large insurer, who may have data on the lifestyle, finances, and family make-up of a region. Other financial or business service providers from bankers to supermarkets may find that data valuable to investigate the lifestyles and habits of customers - and better resource and position their own offerings accordingly.

To open up data to a wider ecosystem takes careful planning for governance, privacy, and regulatory compliance. We have seen this being achieved by organisations creating a new data app.

Getting the right technology and data in place

When approaching this new opportunity it’s important to use the right technology stack.

Look for cloud native technologies that seamlessly integrate with an API-first approach. This way companies are able to leverage the most modern and user-friendly technologies to realise ROI faster.

Use scalable architecture to incorporate new data and new users whether you expect your data ecosystem to grow or fluctuate. Either way, the business’ time is better spent in innovating rather than managing infrastructure where possible - so get this right from the beginning.

Insist on a consumer-grade experience for your delivery. No business can afford to spend resources on training customers and partners on complex systems, only to see them not make best use of the tools and data to drive immediate success. Make it simple and ensure it is going to be used. Adoption is key!

Building an entirely new data app

If you have the right mind-set and the right technology then you are ready to extend an ecosystem. One really new opportunity here are data apps. These can be entirely new offerings that drive revenue, or can be built into existing products and services to make them more compelling, dynamic and usable for customers, like Just Data, a service from Just Eat that gives restaurant partners insights into purchasing and consumption trends.

Technology moves fast, and there are now low-code data solutions to build data apps much more quickly and easily, than perhaps anyone with awareness of traditional data science and engineering may be aware of. That same consumerisation extends even to this level, and means that data science teams can spend less time building and maintaining analytics offerings, and focus on creating new capabilities and driving innovation.

Customising and personalising for your new data customers will help them access and analyse the data that fits their requirements. This is a fundamental feature of successful data apps. Providing immediate access to data in real-time provides far greater value than the slower, outdated ways of working that the industry has now outgrown: Meaning dashboards. If your app simply allows people to ask a limited number of predetermined questions, you're fundamentally not meeting the needs of modern users. In an app economy, this literally means leaving money on the table.

So, simply put, many organisations are able to monetise their own first-party data in new ways, through a data app. If an organisation is able to provide access via easy-to-use services, its new customers will gather mass value from newly utilised insights. In just the same way that analytics benefits you in your job, customers and partners will likewise be able to gain competitive advantages and improve business efficiency. And that means a healthier business for you.

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