‘It’s key to remember that not all data is valuable’

12 Dec 2019

Séamus Dunne, managing director, Interxion Ireland. Image: Interxion

Businesses are generating a lot of data, but what can they do with it? Séamus Dunne of Interxion says there are three things they need to do to make data useful.

According to US cloud software company Domo, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at the current pace, but that pace is only accelerating with the growth of the internet of things (IoT). It’s difficult to comprehend just how much data that is and how we might use it but that’s what more and more organisations are trying to do.

A common misconception is that having more data automatically leads to insightful data. Yet it’s key to remember that not all data is valuable.

Advances in data centre storage, cloud management and hybrid cloud solutions mean data is more accessible and malleable than ever before. But how can an organisation get the most from its data?

There are three crucial considerations an organisation must take into account in its drive for data: preparation and accuracy, analysis and application.

1. Preparation and accuracy

Making the most of data involves two key phases: preparation and data analysis. Too often, organisations can jump straight into analysis, considering what they want to get from the data. An organisation should first decide what they want to find out from the data, and what will benefit the business, its operations or its marketing.

The accuracy of an organisation’s data is crucial – how was it sourced, audience definition and consent, and whether it was collected in a secure and transparent manner. Once an organisation has spent sufficient time on this stage it is sure to have a sound basis for data analysis that will allow them to answer the right questions.

It also goes without saying that any data used should be recent and timely to the questions an organisation is looking to answer. Out-of-date data cannot inform an organisation or its strategies.

2. Analysis

The rise in data analysis roles from accountancy firms and banks to marketing and tech businesses shows the drive across a variety of sectors to utilise data. In partnering with a data analyst, an organisation can seek to understand what the data means via audience insights, transactional insights and online engagement insights.

When viewed together with a broader understanding of the business, this has real applications. However, it needs to be presented in a digestible format.

3. Application

Learning from the data and applying it presents significant opportunities for an organisation. Investing in the time to understand the insights and adapt strategies, operations and engagements is where an organisation will see returns over time.

Depending on the sector and the specifics, the applications may vary greatly. For pharmaceuticals, this may involve investing in manufacturing – a significant investment and change, but one that could deliver time and cost savings. A bank may identify that a marketing strategy drives more engagement and click-throughs with specific target markets, while a retailer may identify a particular online customer experience that is affecting sales completion.

One sector where data analysis has had huge applications is the media, providing a wealth of actionable insights into how consumers, readers and viewers are behaving and, as a result, impacting marketing spend for organisations everywhere.

Opportunity is knocking

For any organisation, data use comes full circle once an organisation builds it into its ongoing planning, regularly looking at what the data tells us, the insights it provides and how it can be applied.

When we consider the opportunity that data presents to all sectors, it’s incumbent on every organisation to take this opportunity seriously before their competitors do.

By Séamus Dunne

Séamus Dunne is managing director of Interxion Ireland. He joined Interxion in July 2019 following a number of roles at Hewlett-Packard, where his last position was vice-president and general manager with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, based in both the US and Ireland.