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How to Become a Data-Centric Company

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The mainstream adoption of big data is just now starting. Now, it’s time to figure out what to do with all this data—and how to exploit it for competitive advantage.

Ultimately, companies use data—big or not—to solve business problems. The data-centric company, however, doesn’t just treat data as an asset—it treats data as gold—and they’re willing to pay for it, too. In fact, many data-centric companies don’t even look like data-centric companies at first glance, rather they masquerade as “service providers”—like Google’s search engine or Amazon’s online retail platform—providing services with the end goal of simply collecting data. In fact, Amazon pioneered this strategy of collecting and exploiting data by layering user data on top of open ISBN data to create new value. Other companies design loyalty programs to drive data collection, like, for example, customer rewards programs at grocery stores or gas stations. By offering discounts on seemingly random products or savings at the pump, they are literally paying customers to provide data through enrolling in their user loyalty programs. (Conversely, you could look at opting-out—or, not signing up for the saver card—as incurring a privacy tax: you’re paying full price to keep your data to yourself.)

It’s a bold statement to say that data-centric equates to competitive advantage. However, there are competitive advantages earned by data-centric companies that have truly revolutionized the business intelligence (BI) industry.

Here are the five characteristics of data-centric companies:

Data-Centric Companies are Data Harvesters

Data-centric companies collect and harvest data from everywhere. One of the “old ways” of thinking in BI was to ask what data was already available, and how to integrate the data to define metrics or map it to an already pre-defined metric. Data-centric companies tackle that question another way—instead of figuring out how to use what data is already available to answer metrics, they begin with first addressing the business problem that needs to be solved, then imagine the data needed—and then go out and find it or create it through new apps (like mobile) or collection agents.


You have until April 11 to take advantage of special pricing for DBTA’s Data Summit, which will take place at the New York Hilton Midtown, from May 12 to May 14. 


Data-centric companies leverage external public and purchased data, big data—whatever data—through whatever means necessary, including internal sources, mobile apps, wearables, sensors, and so on. Even a weather app can bring in untapped value. Being a data harvester is simply the willingness to collect every piece of data about your customers and people any way you can in order to gain insights about existing customers and relate that to future customers.

Data-Centric Companies Live an Analytic Culture

Data-centric companies create (and live and breathe) within an analytic culture—and they make it look easy, too. This analytic culture can be broken down into three categories.

  • Insight: mining, clustering, and using segmentation to understand customers, their networks, and—more important—their influence—as well as product insights.
  • Optimization: of business functions, processes, and models through the use of analytics.
  • Innovation: Discover new and disruptive business models that stay true to company brand but provide pathways to foster the evolution and growth of customer base.

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