Data. We Have it, Now What?

I am sure someone has already coined the phrase “Data Age,” “Age of Data,” or “The Time Data Took over the World.” Something like that, right? But for the last 40 years we have been adding computers to every corner of our lives. Whoever thought the simplest things like a wrist watch, your BBQ grill, or a lightbulb would be looking for an internet connection, and thus, contain some sort of computer technology? Well, we all know we have made it to that point in society. So now what? Those devices are collecting massive amounts of data, on themselves, on our usage, and even the weather. And if each of these gadgets is a drop of water, the data coming from all these devices is all our Earth’s oceans.

It did not take us long to realize that all this data is drowning us in information, so much information that we don’t know what to look at. It is like we can’t even begin to see the waves in the ocean because there is just too much. As we close out the decade, we are entering the age of data, and learning ways we can turn all this information into something useful, something we can actually use to make decisions about our lives and our businesses. You will continue to hear more about Artificial Intelligence (AI), super computers that are going to look for patterns (waves) in all our data. When they find these patterns, they will point out actions we should consider or changes we could make.

Another way to make data usable is by combining similar data, also known as data sharing, to help highlight trends of the larger environment. For example, let’s look at the electrical distribution industry for a few minutes. Each distributor company has tons of sales data on their customers and partners, all stored on computers within the company.

Some companies have spent a lot of time cleaning and analyzing their data, so at some point during their annual or monthly planning cycles, they can look it over and make decisions about what is coming (the future). But how can they make a prediction of the future looking only at themselves? Their sales results are being influenced by all sorts of outside market forces. So, they attempt to find out information on those forces through methods that are unreliable. The internet and market estimators have helped, but are still based mostly on estimates only.

The Market Data Program from NAED was developed by a group of distributors that saw the power of combining market data, unanimously, could be a huge step for the industry. By arming the industry with better decision-making skills, the entire member group could better manage external forces. Yes, sending your company point of sales data outside your safe network can seem scary, but think of the risk of doing nothing. As the data age fully develops over the next 10 years, how can you not be a part of it?

Learn more about NAED’s Market Data Program here, and join the movement!


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Jon Tarleton

Jon Tarleton