I love it that words like “data” and “analytics” have finally made it to prime time. IBM has a “Smarter Planet” campaign running and one of the TV ad’s voiceover says:
“Our planet is alive with data. It's generated by cars on a freeway. Patients in a hospital. Electricity in the grid. The more we understand data, the more answers we find. Patterns are easing traffic in over 400 cities. Finding disease 50 times faster. Reducing energy costs by 10%. On a smarter planet, we can analyze all the data we now see to make the world work better. Let's build a smarter planet.”
The world our kids will soon occupy as adults will be using data in smarter and smarter ways. How about cupboards and refrigerators that tell you what you should stock up on as you go grocery shopping? How about medical records that travel with you instead of sitting in a folder in a file cabinet? What if you never had to fill out a financial aid form for your college-bound child because that was already in electronic form with the IRS?
Remember that it’s not the data that makes us smarter, it’s how we utilize the data. At work I often sit next to a data person or an analytics expert or a programmer when in client meetings. We talk about how to use our clients’ customer data in smarter ways. We push it through portals so it can sit on their computer screens and help our clients make smarter marketing decisions. We analyze it and segment it so we can make intelligent offerings that fit customer needs. This year we’re “listening” to data that comes from social media sites and gauging how to weigh that against purchase activity and customer satisfaction surveys.
If a smarter planet is the goal of all this data collection and analysis, then maybe we can leave the world a better place for our kids and equip them with the tools to take care of tomorrow’s challenges.