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Weekly AI Digest: How to Take Advantage of Unused Data

Many businesses today, despite investing in real-time data streams and state-of-the-art data aggregation tools, still manually draw insights from data. This task is frequently left to data analysts, or worse, the end users. For many, there is a bottleneck when moving from data analysis to to a decision. So how can companies turn current data streams into real-time, data-driven analytics?

An article this week from McKinsey gives a 7-step guide for how to start using data more effectively and the first step seems deceptively simple: to start with your existing data. This is an important first step because many companies aren’t effectively taking advantage of the data they currently have. This phenomena is nothing new. McKinsey has been reporting on this disconnect between data collection and utilization for quite some time (see 2011 and 2015 McKinsey Global Institute reports).

McKinsey estimates that for one example (an oil rig) only 40% of data that is collected and stored and only 1% (or less) is being used, mostly for real-time notifications as opposed to high value-added tasks like predictive analytics


Business Analytics Data to Insight Workflow


With so little data being utilized, companies need to find ways to capture and use data more effectively. So how can you accomplish this first step and start taking advantage of unused data you currently have? The process is two-fold:

  1. Data Collection: Find ways to help collect and store data. McKinsey’s particular focus in this article is using sensors and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices, but there are other mediums for data collection like your website, social media, or ad tracking tools that could be utilized.
  2. Advanced Analytics: Adopt technology that can support a larger audience of employees, not just those that are data savvy. With more people able to make sense of the information you collect, data-driven decisions can become a part of an employee’s day-to-day work. Supplementing current dashboards with data visualization tools and Natural Language Generation (NLG) can help employees to make better sense of the data.


Here are some other interesting reads from last week: