In the fast-changing world, it has become common to create new words by combining two words or linking it to the –fication suffix. Examples of these include gamification and the latest is datafication. Datafication is the process of making a business data-driven. It involves collecting (new) data from various sources, storing them in a centralized location, combining them with each other and finding new insights that could lead to new opportunities as described in the Big Data Use Case framework. Datafication is relatively new phenomena and is characterised by the interaction between digital and physical objects.
The implications of the datafication of organizations and our lives are enormous. They probably are far more profound than we might expect today and therefore it is important to understand how you can datafy your business. This will enable you to be prepared for a data-driven society and be able to deal with your competitors.
Datafication and the Internet of Things
A great example of datafication is the quantified-self and the wearables trend, of which the most-talked about is probably the Apple Watch that is about to become available. The Apple Watch will enable users to generate massive amounts of data about their personal lives, analyse what’s happening, combine it with other data sources and obtain new insights about their personal life.
For organizations, the datafication process starts with collecting data. Massive amounts of data. From a wide variety of data sources. The Internet of Things, which connects ordinary products and devices to the Internet, is an enabler for this process as suddenly all kinds of processes within your organization can be analysed. You can think of how people move through your office (workforce analytics), how drivers behave on the road (transportation analytics) or how different products are being used (product behaviour analytics).
According to a recent report on Datafication by Ericsson, there are four examples of datafication:
- Datafication of personality: how customers use applications on smart phones or how customers use their smartphone, can tell a lot about the personality of a customer; what is their risk profile and/or their credit rating.
- Datafication of business processes means streamlining and improving existing business processes. It can be used to reconfigure existing supply chains and restructure financial services flows within companies. The affect of micro payments for example, will be huge for the financial industry offering more information about purchasing patterns than ever before.
- Datafication of cities: smart cities where smart sensors monitor a plethora of processes and where data streams are monitored centrally in order to improve city processes such as garbage collection or public transportation.
- Datafication of private lives gives information about how people behave in their homes. i.e. when do they turn the heat up, how often do they do the laundry, how many cups of coffee do they drink, etc. All powered by smart meters in combination with a smart grid.
Five Steps to Datafication
Based on these examples, how can you datafy your organization? Well there are in fact five steps you could follow to speed up the process of datafication within your business:
- Start making your office, your workplace, your products or your organization smart. This means that you turn to the Internet of Things and start incorporating sensors throughout your organization. Ensure that you capture the data consistently and universally across different offices, people or devices. This will enable to collect data from new sources which later on can be used for insights;
- Put in place practices to ensure the quality of the data. The data has to be complete and accurate in order to be useful. Data quality is therefore of utmost importance in the process of datafication.
- Start removing the data silos within your organization. Data tends to be stored in silos across different departments and with different owners. When you centralize you data, for example using a data lake, it becomes easier to mix and mash up different data sources for insights.
- Re-assess your organization and look at your business from a new angle. The datafication of your organizations opens a whole new line of possibilities, which you should approach from an out-of-the-box perspective to come-up with really added value for your company.
- Start with a Proof of Concept to better understand the different possibilities of Big Data within your organization. The datafication process should start small and grow from there as it is impossible to completely datafy your business at once.
Once you have started with the datafication of your organization, you will notice that it is far from only a technical challenge. The datafication process touches upon every aspect within your organization including business workflows, strategy processes, data governance, privacy aspects and company culture. All these aspects should be taken into account when you want to datafy your businesses and that is not an easy task.
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This article originally appeared on Datafloq.