I was prepared for a showcase of the hottest technology trends at the peak of Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies when I entered this autumn’s TiVi Data Driven Business 2017 event.
Did these presentations deal with the (still) hottest talks-of-the-town right now – IoT, AI, Machine Learning, Big Data to name few? To some extent yes, but maybe not as much one would be encouraged to expect midst this age of digitalization hype.
It turned out that the presentations from a number of Finnish companies were very much about real-life applications of technology in the companies’ own business context.
Do you know the right question?
What I did hear was a number of stories about businesses and more importantly about people who have set out to improve the unimproved and refine the unrefined. About people who have challenged themselves to find out the right questions to which to find the correct answers for which to find the right information.
When we talk about the aforementioned technologies, we are ultimately talking about the means to acquire and store data, refine that data into information and to turn this information into actions. However, all this is meaningless if you have not asked the right questions in the very beginning.
“Data isn’t the new oil, it’s the new water – there’s plenty of it and most of it is undrinkable.” – Alf Rehn
Big Data is not only for big companies
Let’s take just one example from the keynote speech by Mr. Bernard Marr. A small New York Deli was suffering from low sales volumes. They decided to try and understand why things were as they were and how they could change this.
Through increasingly precise questions, they understood what they needed to know and consequently what kind of data they needed to gather and process. The questions were surprisingly simple: what their potential customers were looking for and when.
Answers to these questions turned into actions, sales volumes multiplied in weeks. Sure, there was some technology involved but – to simplify things a bit – this could have been achieved with some pen, paper, and time.
Data is not the new oil
Technology is and continues to be an enabler, not a mean to an end. You can’t get the right answers before you’re asking the right questions so get your marching order straight.
Have you heard the phrase “data is the new oil” more than enough times now? During the closing remarks of the event, Professor Alf Rehn proposed an improved version of this saying; “Data isn’t the new oil, it’s the new water – there’s plenty of it and most of it is undrinkable.” I have to say I prefer this version. Start with the right questions and you will most probably be the one with something to drink.