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Data, Data and Still More Data, But Where’s the Value?

September 12, 2017

Increased availability along with the reducing cost and size of sensors means that we are collecting an unprecedented amount of data, but to what end? Data is like technology, it is something that should be used to add value, and not for its own sake. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that encourages exploration and as a Business Unit Director it’s exciting to see where our ideas impact on our customers and create real value.

Why now?

Many years ago, we entered the Information Age and now thanks to IoT, we are entering the ‘Too Much Information’ Age. It can sometimes seem like a regression as we gather increasingly large volumes of raw, and occasionally useless, data. Now as we enter the Augmented Age we have an increasingly large responsibility to use that data to deliver better results, better solutions, and better business models. Nobody knew they needed Apple’s App Store until developers started to deliver apps that improve the lives of consumers, disrupting the status quo and providing new business models and opportunities. Where we once reached for encyclopedias, we now turn to google. Where we once visited the library, we now visit Wikipedia, and where we once stood in the rain waiting for a cab, we now reach for the Uber app on our smartphone.

What to do with all that data

I like to think of data as colors on a painter’s palate. It is what the artist, or in this case the app or software developer, does with that color and texture that creates something beautiful, magical or transformative. It’s hard to imagine great art without colors, just as it is near impossible to create great app solutions without data.

So, in the world of IoT, actionable information is the holy grail, not raw data. We need to focus on gathering the data we want, need and can use to make faster and better decisions that impact positively on an outcome. Take for example medicine: if we can use data to prove that environmental influences like light or sound impact upon the outcome of a treatment, we can use that to increase the success of that treatment and improve patient outcomes. That’s where we can really put IoT and data to work. We need to look at every device as not just a data harvester, but also something that has an exaction role and act on decisions generated from data.

Monetization also plays a role in achieving value. Where can data be collected and who in the ecosystem can benefit from that data. Sometimes this isn’t obvious. Take again our case of improved patient outcomes, where data driven decisions may improve the life of the patient, but may also lower the cost of insurance or reduce the time spent with the doctor or practitioner. Understanding the whole ecosystem around a product and data collected can help create new and exciting business models previously not considered.

Sensing technology and IoT, like so many technologies, is not the end game, it is an enabling technology. It enables companies like Jabil to look at products, solutions, business models and ideas in new ways. We can use the diverse skills we have in ideation, design and development, smart packaging, plastics, volume manufacturing and much more to develop new ways of serving an increasingly demanding digital consumer. Digital disruption is a fact of life and we are embracing it to enable us to empower the brands that are changing the world.

What would you put sensors in? What would you enable? What would you disrupt? Look beyond the device and the possibilities are endless!