Now more than ever, companies are finding themselves awash with data. From sensors across the manufacturing floor to gathering data and insights from the field to understanding supplier trends, needs, and conditions, companies are beginning to weave together the threads to create a powerful, datadriven
ecosystem. Companies now also need to contend with revolutionary advances such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, which bring powerful potential, as well as complexity and apprehension, to data strategy.
The use of information and insights to gain a business advantage has been leveraged since the dawn of commerce. The term “knowledge is power,” credited to Francis Bacon’s writings from the late 16th century, is undoubtedly a significantly older realization. While the general benefit of having more information, insights, and knowledge has been with businesses for millennia, data’s rapid rise to being a critical company asset has taken less than a decade. The sheer volume of data now being generated is all but beyond comprehension; according to Frost & Sullivan analysis, 2.5 exabytes of data are being created globally on a daily basis. But, as Bacon may have understood, it is the use of data that makes it a make-or-break factor for having a thriving business.
Data is now so critical across all economic sectors that it has moved from being a tool to an asset—one that needs to be maintained, secured, and used as effectively as possible. As with any valuable asset, companies need to ensure they are getting the most productivity out of their data and the best ROI. They
also need to understand how that asset can be applied across multiple parts of the business; reducing costs, improving customer experiences, and creating more efficient supply chains are only some of the broad categories that the leaders in any industry need to heed.
While data can be looked at as an asset in terms of ensuring it is highly leveraged, it is not a static asset, such as a building or piece of equipment. Data collection has evolved from rudimentary information on equipment status to helping plan and manage an entire business ecosystem. Data can now go well
beyond improving internal and external business processes to actually being shared and used across the supply chain. As noted in the chart below, this process progresses along many steps.