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Profoundness of Data Part 3 – Data Has the Power to be Transformational

by Jodee Hale-Schmid

September 3, 2010

Authored by David Kuketz, EIM Client Partner – Southeast, Utopia, Inc.

In Part 1 “Bad Data Begets Bad Business” we talked about examples of companies that succeeded or vanished because of the condition of and usage of their data or data related to them in some way – data can make winners and losers.

In Part 2 “Mind Your Business, Tend Your Data” we took a deeper look at how data can add tremendous value, how it has dimensions and complexity, and that it is part of a larger value-creating eco-system.

Here in Part 3 we’re going to talk about business transformation.

With Pixar, the data became so complex and advanced, there was a fear in Hollywood that real human actors would be replaced by digital actors, and there was a fear that 2D cartoon animators would become obsolete – and to some degree that happened. The salaries for human actors decreased as a result of less demand for their services. For the anim ators that evolved, adopting new tools (using computers and 3D animation techniques), they kept their careers, made a bigger impact, made more money, and forged a new art form.

To me, it’s a matter of supply vs. demand, for the synthetic vs. the real, and basically both (human and virtual actors) are tools utilized to tell a story. But what is “real”? The story is real even if the “actors” are not. If there’s a good story to tell, and one tool or another is the better medium through which to tell it, then it comes down to which tools provide the best ROI in the bigger picture (no pun intended). Likewise in business the ‘story’ is the way executives use tools to deliver value to the market and owners.

There will always be a need for human actors in movies, in plays, in theatre, and the art of 2D animation will be preserved, in part because classics are made in that medium and because 3D is always story-boarded using 2D as a starting point. The beauty of our world is in its diversity.

While we’re talking about movies, we could just as well be discussing the construction of buildings, the production of widgets, or the sale of retail goods; you have people, computers (technology), processes and data, and an unlimited way of combining them all in order to achieve the end result – value for the stake-holders, whoever they are and however they deem to measure and define that value. Generating “value” is why businesses and (non-profit) organizations are created in the first place.

As in our previous iTunes® discussion, iTunes® is a high-value adaptation of CRM, using elements of product, consumer, scheduling, demographics, etc. to create value. iTunes has an enormous task to deliver all thos e sources and elements to the right customer at the right place (their email) at the right time (ASAP).

Every CRM system has a corollary – an SRM/SCM system --- one helps create, measure, monitor and track demand and the other helps create, measure, monitor, match and deliver to that demand. I think of ERP as being the underlying backbone of processes that keep a business going, like a central nervous system. CRM, SRM, SCM, ERP … they all have people, process and technology … and they all have data, lots of it. Business Intelligence simply gives us the view we need to set direction and policy, and make decisions rapidly. Needs good data!

Good data = good business!

Pixar and iTunes® create immense value without polluting the environment, without hoarding raw materials thus without driving up the prices of such, and without taking up vast amounts of energy thus their carbon footprint is quite small per dollar of sales. Pixar is lean, green and actually not very mean.

Profoundness of Data – Conclusion

A closing thought is this - the businesses that elevate the definition and utility of data to higher levels (extreme levels), to create more value (extreme value), to find greater efficiencies, to explore and create new markets will be the survivors in the 21st century. Those who enable this will become millionaires and billionaires.

Pixar is another example of a company that re-invented an entire industry using people, process, technology, and data, and has become truly ubiquitous and relevant. Let’s enable more Pixars – the world is a better place because of them and those like them.

Just a side-bar; Steve Jobs was responsible for both Pixar and iTunes®, as he co-founded Apple computer (which invented iTunes®) and he gav e Pixar its original $10M needed to launch which became a $7.4B acquisition by Disney. Thank you Steve Jobs for making the world a better place!

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