Big data, and the emergence of new technologies to make it useful, sparked analytics initiatives across every industry, with young, shiny digital companies like Google and Amazon (naturally) leading the way. But old-line companies like ABB Group and Monsanto also wanted to get into the digital data and analytics game.
More importantly, to remain viable, they knew they had to.
For example, ABB Group, the $34 billion Swedish-Swiss industrial firm that services power plants and automates industrial processes, created the ABB Ability platform. The company takes data from machines at its customers’ sites (factories, oil wells, power plants, and more) and turns it into new services and revenue streams. By collecting real-time data about how customers are using its products, ABB knows when a machine needs maintenance and sends an alert, helping its customers reduce operating costs, improve workplace safety and keep their machines (and businesses) running.
That’s valuable. That builds customer loyalty.
ABB credits the platform with an 11% increase in orders for its software and services in 2017. And it believes the platform will allow it to compete for market share it estimates to be $20 billion annually.
Monsanto, which was recently acquired by Bayer (and plans soon to operate under the Bayer name), has taken a similar approach as ABB, engaging customers, suppliers and business partners in collecting and analyzing data. This is crucial to capitalizing on digital data.
The $14 billion agricultural and biotech company’s new Transportation Management System (TMS) employs real-time monitoring, automation, and analytics-based decision making to help its partners optimize routes and truck utilization while providing real-time delivery updates, delivering annual savings of nearly $14 million. And its cloud-based analytics platform, science@scale – providing analytics-as-a-service to its scientists around the world – has led to a sales revenue increase of $15 million in the United States, according to Monsanto CIO and Head of Digital Transformation at Bayer Crop Science James Swanson.
But ABB and Monsanto’s digital data capabilities appear to be rare. Only 9% of companies have reached a “transformational level” of data and analytics maturity, according to Gartner.
That’s not good. Here’s how firms can reach that level:
Begin by looking not just at the data your company generates but the data generated in its broader ecosystem, by its suppliers, customers, distributors and with whoever it transacts.
Then, determine what data you have and what you need to capture to improve key processes such as marketing and sales, manufacturing, distribution and product development.
Look at how to improve your capability to gather, process, analyze, and use that data to your business’s and customers’ advantage.
Plan for how to build the capabilities you lack. Your plan should include technologies that will inform decisions and execute processes and include cloud services, with their almost unlimited compute power. Management must also decide how to distribute the data it collects and analytics tools internally, as Monsanto has done with science@scale. An organization in which data, analytics tools and analytics techniques are siloed in business units is an organization heading down the wrong road.
Finally, management must turn analytics insights into revenue. ABB did this by creating a new data-rich service that is saving customers money; Monsanto boosted sales by making data broadly accessible inside and outside its business, saving customers money and opening doors to new accounts.
The best companies are using digital data to work with their customers to help both – the company and its customers – become more efficient and effective.
When that happens, the returns on big data grow bigger.