Profiting from free and underused data

Data is rightly seen as a valuable asset that companies should guard carefully. Having access to unique data sets and possessing the ability to use advanced analytics techniques to process them can separate winners from losers in the 21st century – just ask Google or Facebook about how profitable that can be.

However, many firms are sitting on data assets that are not being utilized effectively or even used at all. There is also an abundance of freely accessible data made available by public bodies. McKinsey & Co. recently estimated that telecom operators could generate incremental revenues of 5% to 15% as well as reduce costs by 15% to 35% through the better use of existing data assets.

In the US it has been estimated that more than $220 billion was generated by firms that rely on data collected and made freely available by government agencies and other public bodies. Within the EU, legislation las been passed to make member states provide greater access to public information for commercial re-use by the private sector. The economic value of making this data freely available was put at €52 billion in 2018, rising to €194 billion by 2030.

Hiding in plain sight

Through analysis of internal files and documents and the application of a “digital assistant” to answer common queries from clients and staff, legal firm Fenwick and West estimates it saved almost $200,000 worth of staff time in 2018. As machine learning and analytics software is applied to data and records generated within an organisation from CRM, ERP and other processes it opens up a wealth of possibilities for operational improvements.

A key challenge for CIO’s and CDO’s is being able to extract actionable insights from the data. As Doug Laney, a VP analyst at Gartner, recently noted, “Data and analytics will become the centerpiece of enterprise strategy, focus and investment.”

Scraping value from the web

With more than 2 billion websites currently online, there have never been so many opportunities for companies to find potentially valuable data. However, identifying the right websites to investigate and then extracting the data that is required can be difficult. Web scraping solutions have been around since the dawn of the web, but they have now reached a level of sophistication that allow real value to be extracted in near real-time.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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