Use it or go bust

At the Teradata Universe conference in Barcelona, Hermann Wimmer, President Teradata EMEA gave a stark message to delegates – “Those companies that do not make use of their data to generate new business will disappear from the market.”

As a company whose entire business has been built on Business Intelligence (BI) and the use of analytics, Wimmer’s message might seem a little self serving but there is a serious truth about what he said. Companies have invested large sums of money to storage the massive amount of data that they generate. Within that data has to be information that can improve the business but if you cannot analyse the data, you can’t improve the business.

Wimmer believes that this is about the ability of companies to use their raw materials properly. He made the point to the attendees that unlike other raw materials that businesses consume, data can be reused as many times as you want. This makes it the most efficient of raw materials and something that companies need to understand because once you have it, there is little cost to reusing it for new business models.

He them cited a number of examples of companies who are making significant use of their analytics. The first of these is US healthcare company, Wellpoint. They have been using data warehousing and analytics for a number of years to compare the efficacy of patient treatments. As a result, they are already able to feed back to patients and doctors what treatments are more effective than others which is changing the way patients are getting care.

Wellpoint are also able to deliver patient records within 5 seconds to any emergency room in the US. This means that a patient can walk into any hospital and doctors are immediately able to access their medical history. The implications for national healthcare providers like the UK’s NHS are immediate. While governments have spent vast sums trying to create national data solutions, here is a private US company showing that it can be done and at a significantly lower cost than the money that has been poured into the NHS over the last decade to create a similar system.

Another UK example is Thames Water who have brought their sensor data and their maintenance data warehouses together to reduce leakage by 25% over the last year. Thames Water now claim to be able to detect a leaking main earlier than ever before but only because they are able to identify sudden excess usage of water, compare that to maintenance records and then despatch crews to minimise water loss.

To show that analytics is not just about businesses using data to improve what they do, Wimmer talked about UK bank Lloyds TSB who recently launched their money manager. At the back end of this system is a set of analytics that go through your bank account and provide the customer with a detailed analysis of their spending. For both consumers and businesses, especially those where cash flow is always an issue, this use of backend analytics to deliver detailed analysis of spending is a significant benefit.

For Lloyds TSB the costs of developing the system were minimal as all they have done is extend a front end application to their core databases. From Wimmer’s perspective this show a democratisation of data where it is not just the business that can benefit but it allows you to provide customers, partners, prospects and your entire supply chain with valuable information that is currently locked up inside data warehouses.