Big data is living up to its billing as a disruptive force and a catalyst for growth. In the insurance industry, the impact of telematics is forcing companies to rethink their business models. Smart meters and grids are doing the same in the energy industry. In many sectors, the opportunity to capture new revenue streams by leveraging a diverse range of data—from geospatial data to social media profiles—is giving rise to business units and products that would have been hard to imagine, let alone realize, in the predigital era.
Big data technologies and analytics will eventually converge on a relatively level playing field. Over the long term, therefore, companies will not be able to differentiate themselves based on their technical or analytical capabilities. Instead, their ability to convert big data into competitive advantage will hinge on two factors.
First, they’ll need to do an outstanding job of convincing their customers to allow them to access and use their data. It’s a right that has to be earned through rigorous policies and clear communication. Trust is everything. Second, they’ll need to view big data not as a technical endeavor but as a sweeping business transformation. A robust technical platform is a must, but companies will also need to revisit their operating models, their cultures, and the ways in which they interact with customers in order to make the most of big data.