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Data Collection: the Battlefields of Modern Business By @KRBenedict | @BigDataExpo #BigData

I sincerely believe that the battlefields of business today are around data

Data Collection: the Battlefields of Modern Business and Modern Commerce

In 1854 Cholera broke out in the Soho neighborhood of London. Hundreds of people were struck down and died within days. No one at the time understood where the disease came from, how to treat it, or how it was transmitted.

A local physician, Dr. John Snow, spent every possible moment of his day studying the victims and data in an attempt to understand the disease. His biggest challenge was a lack of data. He had only the list of the dead and a blank map of the neighborhood. What he needed was more data. This was solved when he met the local priest, Henry Whitehouse. Whitehouse had recorded the time of death, and the location where all the families lived and died. When these sources of data were combined, and then overlaid on a map, visual patterns emerged which ultimately led the two to see the common denominator for all the victims was drinking contaminated water from the Broad Street water pump.

The pump handle was removed, people stopped drinking its water, and the disease burned out. Dr. John Snow is now recognized as one of the fathers of modern epidemiology. The data that led to his discoveries were:

  • Victims
  • Relationships
  • Occupations
  • Locations
  • Time of illness
  • Time of death
  • Behaviors
  • Patterns of life

Adding all of these data sources to a map, for visual reference and clarity, enabled the insight that ultimately revealed the source and means of transmission of the disease. Minus key data sources, the disease would have remained a mystery and many more people would have died.

In business, many challenges and obstacles today can also be solved with better data collection strategies and enhanced analytics. We have all heard the phrase, "knowledge is power." Knowledge comes from data, so data is power.

I sincerely believe that the battlefields of business today are around data. The winners of today and tomorrow will be those better able to collect, analyze, understand and apply data to the customization and personalization of digital interactions. My colleagues Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig and Ben Pring wrote the book "Code Halos" last year to dig deep into these ideas and strategies.

Last week I published a new thought leadership whitepaper on the application of real-time data strategies and analytics to mobile commerce and consumer facing mobile applications. The paper is titled, "Cutting Through Chaos in the Age of Mobile Me." You can download the whitepaper here http://www.cognizant.com/InsightsWhitepapers/Cutting-Through-Chaos-in-the-Age-of-Mobile-Me-codex1579.pdf.

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Kevin Benedict, Senior Analyst, Center for the Future of Work, Cognizant

Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated futurist, Principal Analyst at the Center for Digital Intelligence™, C4DIGI.com, emerging technologies analyst, and digital transformation and business strategy consultant. In the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries, and is a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. He spent nearly 5 years working as a Senior Analyst at Cognizant (CTSH), and 2 years serving in Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work where he wrote many reports, hundreds of articles, interviewed technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries. He has written articles published in The Guardian, wrote the Forward to SAP Press' book titled "Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP", published over 3,000 articles and was featured as thought leader and digital strategist in the Department of Defense's IQT intelligence journal. Kevin lectures and leads workshops, teaches and consults with companies and government agencies around the world to help develop digital transformation and business strategies. Visit his website at C4DIGI.com.