The Era of Datafication

  • BLOG
  • July 29th, 2019

In the late 19th century, a technological disruption called electricity revolutionized how people lived and worked.

It became known as the Era of Electrification. Today, a similar revolution is taking place as proliferation of data is driving big changes on the personal and professional fronts. We call this the Era of Datafication.

Datafication is transforming many traditional businesses into data businesses. Think of the 19th century buggy whip manufacturers who died because they didn’t think of themselves as being in the transportation business. Similarly, today’s businesses that don’t recognize that they are in the data business – and leverage the power of their data – will become extinct.

Think of all the data enterprises are tracking and measuring about various aspects of our lives: time spent on our phones, using Facebook, watching videos, withdrawing money, using credit cards, etc. Not to mention location-based services that know where we are (or at least where our mobile devices are) virtually all of the time. Similarly, your exercise regime is now ‘datafied.’ Modern fitness gadgets can record exactly what distance you ran and how many calories you burned in addition to heart and respiration rates.

Datafication can be used to redesign and improve existing business processes. For example:

  • Datafication can be used to reconfigure existing supply chains and restructure financial service flows within companies
  • E-book providers can keep track of your reading habits and optimize book sales by recommending the right books. They can even provide useful feedback to authors by showing them which passages people find hard to read, or identify at which pages readers tend to give up on the book
  • Even tires are becoming datafied; Pirelli has embedded sensors into truck tires that constantly beam back information about the tire pressure and temperature, and this is used to calculate tire wear, helping lengthen the lifetime of the tire and optimize preventative maintenance
  • Irresponsible driving like jackrabbit starts, hard braking, fast cornering and sudden swerves are being datafied so that motor insurance companies can quantify the actual risk associated with a customer and offer tailored policies and price that attract safe-driving, cost-conscious customers
  • Education is rapidly being datafied with Massive Open Online Courses becoming increasingly popular. We now have data on the learning patterns of students which wasn’t available before. A teacher can now easily provide individual attention by customizing the course and assignments based on a student’s abilities