Tomatoes… You probably never realized how much they have to say about the global economy.
But David Soloff, co-founder of the tech startup Premise, has different ideas about this common vegetable.
Premise has developed a mobile app that is being used by people in 25 countries to snap photos of tomatoes (as well as other foods and goods in public markets) to send back to Soloff and his team.
You are probably asking, “Why the vegetable photos?”
The New York Times explains: “By analyzing the photos of prices and the placement of everyday items like piles of tomatoes and bottles of shampoo and matching that to other data, Premise is building a real-time inflation index to sell to companies and Wall Street traders, who are hungry for insightful data.”
Did you catch it? The single phrase in that sentence that explains how something like photos of produce can create an accurate image of the global economy?
Maybe not what you expected. But, it’s true across all analytical disciplines.
The fact is, data that is connected to other data is orders of magnitude more useful than unconnected data.
What we’re talking about here is the concept of “data connectivity”. This is a concept that businesses can easily overlook, even when they’re riding the big data wave.
The Current Environment
Of course, “Data” is all the rage these days.
It should be. It’s a decade of awakening in the business world. In order to keep up with the market, business executives have to be thinking innovatively about their data – how to effectively capture, store, and use it.
When we use data to shape the way we think about a business problem (or solution), then it can improve outcomes and drive performance. But, there’s more to it.
Connectivity > Sum of its Parts
Let’s go back to the case of the tomatoes and the global economy.
An isolated picture or two of a pile of tomatoes won’t lead to any substantive conclusions about the economy. But, when we connect pictures of food piles around the world to other sets of data like weather forecasts and rainfall totals, then you have revealing information that people like stockbrokers or buyers for grocery chains can leverage.
This story is a great example of a common rule in analytics: Isolated data can give you information for a discrete value happening in a discrete environment – but not much else. And, taking this approach in your business means you are probably missing out on valuable information and insight.
But Businesses Fall Short
You may be surprised to learn that businesses of every size, across a variety of industries and markets struggle to harness the power of connected data.
And the Perkins Consulting team is no stranger to this dilemma.
One of our clients, a major developer of investment products in the US, didn’t have a robust picture of their sales model until they connected their three disparate systems that tracked their direct sales transactions, sales to distributors, and housed their investment product definitions respectively. Armed with this new information, our client was able to sharpen their management focus by delivering the most profitable products to the right channels.
We helped another client, an international jewelry distributor, integrate their product data with their financial data in order to analyze financial results through complex categorization of their products. Now that their data is connected, our client is able to answer product performance questions such as:
- Are smaller diamond rings more profitable than rings with larger diamonds?
- Are bracelets more profitable than rings?
- Does selling bracelets necessitate a larger inventory?
This information transformed our client’s approach to sales and operations planning, allowing them to implement a data-driven strategy based on facts rather than speculation or hunches.
It’s More Complex Than It Sounds
Housing information in separate silos tends to be a default for businesses because it is often a logical way to store data. It often requires an experienced eye to detect where this methodology cripples business potential, and then to take the steps necessary for identifying and integrating meaningful data.
But like many analytical methodologies, the concept of data connectivity has been around for a very long time. With the right strategy and expertise,
you can leverage this simple methodology for improved insight and powerful gains in your business performance.
And, you don’t even need tomatoes.
Call Perkins Consulting at 503.221.7584 to learn how your business can overcome the limiting effects of data siloes, and boost performance with connectivity.