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Data should not only be used to drive a company’s performance; it should also challenge its business model. Frans Feldberg, business innovation professor at the University of Amsterdam, explains how.

“As with the discovery of the microscope, data analytics opens up access to new worlds.” This in turn necessarily leads to value creation, says Frans Feldberg, professor of business innovation at the school of business and economics at the University of Amsterdam.

According to the expert, who is also a director of the Amsterdam Centre for Business Analytics, the time for businesses to be wondering whether to take action on data is past. Delay, and they are likely to be left behind by their competitors.

Furthermore, data-driven organisations are much more successful than businesses that don’t use their data.

“It sounds like nonsense, but thanks to algorithms Facebook sometimes knows what you want better than you do yourself, based on your behavioural data. Data analytics helps us discover what we don’t yet know,” adds Feldberg. He goes on to warn that too many businesses use data simply to improve their business performance, whereas the most valuable innovation – achieved by monitoring data – involves calling into question their business models.

Exemplary washing machine

Feldberg takes a Wi-Fi enabled washing machine as an example. On the face of it, the Wi-Fi connection can help optimise the use of the machine, enabling it to be operated remotely. But delve a little deeper, and you find that the connection delivers a wealth of data that can be of interest to maintenance companies, offering the opportunity for them to develop predictive maintenance programmes.

“Run the risk of experimenting and innovating! There is always the danger that you’ll be taken by surprise by the next Uber.”

Such data can inspire new business models, incorporating services created on the basis of the value of the data. In the case of the washing machine, these services might include advice about how to optimise planned laundry jobs and about which programme to choose to achieve the best result at the lowest cost and with the lowest possible impact on the environment.

“Run the risk of experimenting and innovating!” says Professor Feldberg. In the field of data analytics, visibility may be limited and the next step may be difficult to foresee, but “there is always the risk of being taken by surprise in your sector by the next Uber.”