Is data our new commodity?

A little while back I read an article from Menno Middeldorp (the Netherlands ‘chief economist and researcher at Rabobank) in which he finishes with: according to him we are in a transitioning period. He compares it to the industrial revolution. “Data will become our new commodity”.

Good news for Mr. Middeldorp: there are loads or large and middle-small companies becoming innovators and early adapters using data to map the customers’ journey and guiding them to an eventual sale. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. I’m sure you’re acquainted with the famous 5 P’s (or are there more nowadays?). The big difference between before the ‘industrial revolution’ compared to now is that the consumer is a lot bolder and is not afraid to let you hear their voice. The consumer is no longer dependant on “push marketing” but follows a completely different route to an actual sales. Product reviews or services have become an important factor for purchase decisions. But there are plenty of blogs written about this subject already.

Information spreads at a high speed via many different kinds of (online) media. In no-time we’re up to date about news happening on the South pole. There’s no barrier anymore. That also means that consumers don’t just swallow anything anymore. Exactly for that reason, companies need to have a larger knowledge of the behaviour of their target group.

Why you can’t always use data as a commodity

The innovators which I mentioned in the beginning of my blog, aren’t always as successful. That’s because there’s no reference or framework they can hold on to. This impedes the growth of using data effectively. Internal culture and awareness are challenging when trying to keep the data ship afloat. Add the assembly of data maintenance and there it is again; centralising the available (and usable) data.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any success cases. Thanks to our diverse customer base which consists of many different industries and more than 1.000 participating companies, we as CDDN have a good overview of companies and industries which are taking this very serious. We are an important partner for the automotive industry in improving and enriching the customer based information, we therefore have a very clear image for this industry.

I recognize a lot of what Mr. Middeldorp cites about us having a discussion structure and that the practical execution often stays behind as there are too many rules drawn up to keep stakeholders happy. This too took place within the automotive industry, however this dates back to three years ago. You could say this is rather late, however a traditional industry such as the automotive industry is definitely mentionable as a successful case.

Data centralisation in different industries

By centralising data the automotive industry was able to combine online and offline information and map a customer journey. This allowed for vast improvements in the staffing of the workshop, as information about the age of the car and reputation of the car brand could be combined thanks to big data. The could then use this to predict when a car was due for reparations for example.

The retail industry and fundraisers are also participating. De retail industry is well on track and the fundraising companies have always been very clever to use data to keep their donors engaged. A industry which I expected more from is insurance. The Dutch Polder Model is a big thing for this industry, where I have heard about 20 year old initiatives which are still waiting for the right decisions to be made. In the meantime reality is catching up with them.

To sum up, I embrace the message Mr. Middeldorp shared with us and am happy to be a part of the digital revolution in which we as CDDN play a prominent role in supporting businesses on a daily bases to find the right way towards the new revolution.