5 minute read 16 May 2018
Colleagues controlling industrial robots, using digital tablet

How to make big data even bigger for your business

Authors
Jerry Gootee

EY Global Advanced Manufacturing Sector Leader

Consulting leader with nearly 30 years of experience. Passionate about developing people, building relationships and serving clients. Guitarist and vocalist. Golfer and Cleveland sports enthusiast.

Jade Rodysill

EY Americas Chemicals & Advanced Materials Industry Leader

Relentless servant leader dedicated to effective and inclusive teaming. Driving agile, pragmatic disruption. Architecting and accelerating value chain excellence for manufacturers.

5 minute read 16 May 2018

Big data and data analytics can change the way you do business —  but first, you may have to change the way you do big data.

Big data is even bigger than many people think —  particularly in the industrial products sector.  In 2018, EY completed a study, surveying 500 senior executives of industrial products companies in the US and Canada. Their responses were definitive: big data and data analytics is the most influential megatrend across their entire sector, now and over the next three years, and the most significant means for meeting strategic goals, particularly among “early mover” and “extremely innovative” companies.

Big data/analytics

44%

of products and service transformation "early movers" ranked big data/analytics as a top megatrend.

Top technology

62%

of "extremely innovative" companies ranked big data/analytics as a top technology to meet strategic goals.

The challenge to getting the most out of data analytics initiatives, however, is in establishing the most productive approach. Many companies start with “What are we going to do with all this data?” rather than with “What opportunities do we want to seize?” or “How can we develop industry-disrupting customer insights?” They put the cart before the horse by not starting with the strategic outcomes.

Establishing an outcomes-based objective creates a framework for identifying which data are important and what questions to ask in your analytics. The decisions that need to be made faster, better and/or cheaper drive the analytics to be run, which drives the data to be captured. 

When you ask better questions of your data, you’ll get better answers —  the kind that can drive large-scale change in your business. Here are other insights gleaned from the research.

You don’t just think about data differently — you work with it differently

Once you know what you want to use your data for, there are several operations you’ll need to undertake in order to use it in new and more effective ways: data-integrity measures to improve data reliability, data standardization to make analysis more inclusive and practical, and normalization to operationalize data across silos so that everyone works from the same data.

But to work with data differently, you also need different tools. And there is a wide range of newer tools gaining traction, such as visualization tools that make data more accessible and easier to understand the business implications. EY has taken a data-driven approach in developing our Supply Chain Smart Maps solution, enabling clients to gain end-to-end visibility across the supply chain. Thus, Smart Maps becomes a catalyst for generating innovative digital solutions for a company’s supply chain transformation journey.

No matter how valuable you think your data are, they’re probably more valuable than that

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that today’s data are just like yesterday’s, just more of it. Instead, you need to appreciate the extraordinary value to be extracted from connected data, both structured and unstructured. They produce new sources of information. They lead to asking better questions, which can open new arenas and levels of competitive advantage. They enable proactive, innovative solution development.

58% of companies with the strongest revenue growth collaborate with customer on products and services.

In other words, today’s data and analytics position you to disrupt your marketplace — or even new marketplaces you aren’t currently competing in — rather than simply enabling you to respond to the disruption of others.

You may even find your data analytics driving new business and revenue streams, among new and existing customers, as it becomes so valuable to a target audience that you’re able to monetize it. An EY client moved from selling water chemicals, to using digitally connected sensors to monitor customers’ cooling towers, to charging on the basis of cooling-tower efficacy — because it could draw richer insights into optimizing operations from its data than its customers had access to from anywhere else.

Data-driven decision-making will move you toward internal cultural change

You expect data to inform broader-based strategies that stretch your company’s thinking beyond the parameters of previous business-strategy thinking. You may already be moving toward an ecosystem perspective and away from your historic product-centricity. You may be embracing the idea of continuous innovation over continuous improvement.

Early movers stand out for defining a vision for digital transformation, changing compensation, and establishing a fail-fast culture.

But you will find that today’s data analytics not only change the way you think but also affect the entire nature of your organization, structurally and culturally. For one thing, modern data analytics undertakings are enterprise-wide initiatives, not just IT projects. You must deploy your data analytics transformation in an agile way, because the pace of business change is increasing — the problem you want to address could change before you are fully deployed. And your IT departments may already understand this.

Collaboration

65%

of IT executives successfully collaborate across functions.

Ultimately, however, you’ll find that the networking effect embodied in big data is much greater than the operating-efficiency effect. Connectivity is vital, not only across your functions and business units but across your supply chain and the rest of your ecosystem. Connect with other members of your ecosystem and you can access data that’s being created elsewhere. Then bring this bigger-picture perspective to creating broader, higher-impact solutions.

Data and your approach to analytics have the ability to change your business — the way you do business, even the business you’re in. But you must start using data in different ways — not just for product development but for business model change. Which means setting up your analytics program to expand the insight and strategic advantage you get from your data.

Because ultimately, you want to move from selling product, which tends to get commoditized and price-sensitive over time, to selling outcomes, which provides added value to your customers and greater profit margins for your company.

Summary

Data and your approach to analytics have the ability to change your business — the way you do business, even the business you’re in. But you must start using data in different ways — not just for product development but for business model change.

About this article

Authors
Jerry Gootee

EY Global Advanced Manufacturing Sector Leader

Consulting leader with nearly 30 years of experience. Passionate about developing people, building relationships and serving clients. Guitarist and vocalist. Golfer and Cleveland sports enthusiast.

Jade Rodysill

EY Americas Chemicals & Advanced Materials Industry Leader

Relentless servant leader dedicated to effective and inclusive teaming. Driving agile, pragmatic disruption. Architecting and accelerating value chain excellence for manufacturers.