July 04, 2017
I recently read an article on the importance of data. Already feeding a monster disposition of mine, I found myself evaluating the uses of data as a metric. I wondered about how powerfully drawn conclusions were used, and determined that our target market couldn’t successfully provide their services or fulfill their core missions without it.
This leaves me with thinking about data and you.
- What does data mean to you?
- What should data be to your organization?
- What kind of emphasis are you placing on data to move your organization forward?
In this blog, I want to share my insight to data, its uses, its importance, and its ability to provoke positive transformational change. This will be the longest blog we’ve written in doing so. We recommend that you stay engaged, take notes, and if you are good, teach someone what you’ve learned.
Let’s begin with defining the term.
DATA, WHAT ARE YOU?
By now, the definition of data is common knowledge. Everyone knows what it means or at least has some frame of reference of the term. If we’re beating data down to its principal source, its origin is Latin and it means “something given.”
“Hello, data, give me something!”
According to Purdue University, “data is the collected factual material commonly (…) validating research findings. Data is used to develop an understanding of a natural phenomenon and in analyzing and predicting future events (Purdue University Online Circular).”
The collection, observation, or creation for purposes of analysis is to yield original research results. It’s no wonder that organizations, especially those that thrive on economic impact or social good, are piggy-backing on their research findings and/or assumptions to do something (anything!) better than they were. THERE IS NO END TO DATA
Former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, says “there is no shortage of data, computing power, or storage.” I don’t think there’s a viable argument for the alternative, do you? Being in the technology industry, data is the crème de la crème of analytical insight. Without it we are merely floating blindly in a sea of involuntary movements. Data is our sight, and without it, we can’t see jack.
There is a considerable amount of focus placed on the potential of data. I would be inclined to claim that the more data, the better. Here’s why:
Large amounts of data give you power. If you have 10 million data points, outliers are easier to identify, and the underlying distribution of that data is more clear. If you have 10 data points, this is probably not the case. To use the 10-point set, you’ll have to perform more sophisticated normalization on the data before it is useful.</p> Additionally, as there is no end in infinity, there is no end in data. Endless is great; but, data with information is even greater.
DATA WITH INFORMATION IS CONTEXT
If data is our sight on the sea, information is our rudder on our sail.
Information is data in context. Without it, you cannot have the latter.
Imagine the two flowing in a cool conclusion funnel. Coming out of the bottom of the funnel is a massive amount of information in context you can do a lot with. Various industries use this context to better serve their customers, increase internal capacity, or bring about lasting change for a social cause. We’ll address several industries, and their use of data, a little later.
DATA IS FACT
Data + Information = Facts in Context
If data and information are facts in context, technology uses the context to create perspective. In this realm, there is no shortage of data and, if it is fact, it never lies.</p> This assumption is the purpose behind developing technology that helps us understand certain industries. The energy industry, for example, exists to evaluate the environmental impact of energy consumption. Their job is to make sure consumers’ consumption footprint isn’t exceeding the planet’s capacity to accommodate it.
Great use of technology!
WHAT IS DATA TELLING US?
“In God we trust; all others must bring data.”- William Edwards Deming
Data, what are you telling us?
If data + information = facts in context,
Facts in context + perspective = a narrative.
If we tell a compelling narrative, we can help people see data for what it is or what it could be.
We look at it this way:
Meeting data’s full potential means it not only tells a good story, it tells the right one – a story that removes all unnecessary commas and derivatives. This narrative can provoke actionable, transformable change if used in the right way. Let’s use the energy sector to help further our example. The energy sector uses data in a variety of ways to ultimately create a strategic course of action. The motive is to lower energy consumption via data analysis.
How do they tell their narrative?
They quantify it—
They create credibility—
They develop a frame of reference—
They pose a call to action—
And, they track and measure progress along the way to actively observe their impact.
Data provides quantification - Metering energy consumption allows for the collection of the data. This ensures information is easier to consume.
Data explains credibility - Finding opportunities to save energy involves consumer engagement. Data allows people to estimate how much energy each opportunity could potentially save; thereby, saving money while contributing to a real global issue.
Data develops a frame of reference - Monitoring energy consumption helps consumers reduce the damage we’re doing to our planet. As a human race, we would probably find things rather difficult without the Earth, so it makes good sense to try to make it last.
Data prompts action and behavioral shifts - They target the opportunities to save energy as a result of data (i.e., tackling routine waste and replacing/upgrading inefficient equipment). Knowing energy consumption helps people do things differently. They know they can directly affect cost, reduce environmental damage, and limit risk. More often than not, they make the changes necessary to do those things.
Data helps manage and track progress - You manage what you can measure, and, usually, management involves varied methods of tracking. Tracking allows us to see our impact and encourages us to continue our efforts to save energy.
Do you agree that data in context tells a compelling narrative? We happen to think that data talks to us in more ways than one, especially when developing technologies to use the data for a greater good.
WHY ANALYZE DATA
There are too many motives behind the importance of analyzing data. One really good one is to justify decisions or to prompt change.
For private and public organizations, data is analyzed to –
Change the way they arrive at decisions; and, Alter the behaviors of their stakeholders (internal/external) based on its context. The domain in which the data is compiled matters greatly, because it changes the type of data we analyze.
Let’s look at a few industries and see how they use data to alter business as usual.
THE TYPE OF DATA WE ANALYZE DEPENDS ON THE DOMAIN
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) identifies hundreds of high-tech industries that utilize data for output. It is common-sense logic to assume that the type of data these industries pay attention to are similar in form, but dissimilar in reason. Each of them compile and make assumptions based on the data that make sense for their domains.
Example Domain Uses of Data
Specialty sports manufacturers streamlined production techniques to eliminate inventory overruns and create better products – all the while saving money. Newly accessible data allows these types of companies to “produce 900 different kinds of skis to accommodate customer personality, preference, and snow conditions—giving customers exactly what they want and meeting the company’s goals for lower inventory and expenses.”
Consumer banking chains are using data collected and analyzed by cognitive computing to more than double their customer engagement online. “They went from 40% to 92%, with a 30% increase in online banking. With a view into customer sentiment as well as data on revenue generation per product held, associates can provide customer service that is more personalized.”
Insurance companies use cognitive data to decrease the time needed to process complex claims. The difference in time changed from two days to just 10 minutes! “These companies are also using data to identify and eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud and leakage. The result is a more customer-centric and profitable company.”
Electric companies link residents’ smart meter data to smartphones and internet-connected smart home devices so they can help save energy when it’s needed most. “Users are saving 10 -12 percent on their heating and electric bills and 15% on their cooling bills. This translates to an average savings of $131 to $145 a year.”
Federal government agencies are using data to enhance the services delivered to millions of its citizens. When it comes to food regulation, agencies are responding “more quickly to contaminated products that enter the food supply and contribute to the 325,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths related to foodborne illness every year.”
Healthcare companies are using data to extract key insights from unstructured patient medical history—including physician notes and dictation—“covering 1.35 million annual outpatient visits, 68,000 hospital admissions and 265,000 emergency room visits. The trends, patterns and other important information captured from this data continue to help clinicians identify patients at risk for chronic disease, critical to both improving treatment and reducing re-admission.” Data makes it possible for each one of these domains to work more efficiently, contribute to their bottom lines, and improve the experience of its customers. They are highly dependent on technology to supplement the way they operate. From customer service to energy consumption monitoring, technology plays a massive part of their strategic implementation.
DATA AFFECTS THE POCKET – HOW IS IT AFFECTING YOURS?
To this point, we have defined data, addressed its ability to create perspective, and identified ways in which several industries are using data to their customers’ advantage. When it comes to you, what precautions are you taking to utilize data in a monetarily beneficial way?
The data most accessible to you right now surrounds you on a daily basis, both at home and at work.
We’re talking your electricity-water-gas usage here.
It affects you. And, it most definitely affects your pocket.
Allow us to share some ways in which you can save money using the data available at your fingertips. With summer around the corner (if you’re reading this when it was first published), you need to know where you’re leaving money on the table.
Let’s put some of what we learned about data into practice to help us prepare for hot temps and prevent high bills.
If you rent or own your own home, it’s a constant struggle to keep your eyes on your energy consumption. We’ve provided practical adjustments you can make to your home to improve your ability to be more planet-friendly.
- Save 20% on heating and cooling bills. How? Check your home for air leaks. Seal and properly insulate cracks. Plug energy leaks with weather stripping and caulking, and be sure your house is properly insulated.</li>
- Save 10% on cooling and heating costs. How? Install a programmable thermostat to automate your energy use.
- Reduce energy use by as much as 80%. How? Do an inventory check on your light bulbs. Switch your lightbulbs with energy-efficient halogen incandescent, CFL and LED lightbulbs.
- Save up to 30% on your bill. How? Look for the Energy Star label, the government’s symbol of energy efficiency, on a wide range of consumer products.
- Save $30/$40 annually. How? Wash clothes in cold water.Heating the water in a washer uses 90% of the energy used to wash clothes.
If you lease or own a commercial building, we understand how difficult it can be to monitor your energy consumption. Here are some adjustments you can make to better justify your bill.
- Install efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems if required, and ensure they are efficiently used.
- Install solar water heaters – these are relatively expensive, but result in substantial savings on your electricity bills (water heating is the biggest part of most households’ electricity use profiles).
- If needed, energy efficient light bulbs are usually more expensive than conventional incandescent light, but have a much longer life-span and use far less electricity. They pay for themselves in a few months and are a very sound environmental choice. If you work for a public organization, the challenge can be even harder to moderate. We list a few adjustments you and your departments can make to better expend tax payer funds.
- Lower operational costs by making optimum use of assets. This may not always be in your control; however, consider how best your organization needs to use the building.
- Get a baseline of energy use. If you don’t have a building management system, examine fuel bills to get estimates and keep track of electricity consumption.
- Use energy efficient bulbs and daylight controllers that will switch on only when natural light is insufficient. Infrared sensors will switch off lights in spaces that are infrequently used, such as toilets, corridors and stairwells. Reduce lighting level by replacing tubes with bulbs.
- Information Technology equipment consumes a large amount of electricity. Put computers in their most efficient setting and switch them off when not in use. Switch to a thin client system instead of having desktop PCs at each desk. Low energy screens are hosted by computing facilities in a remote server room. This will also reduce the cooling load.
- Switch suppliers for a better deal. Monitor consumption every month. You can also take advantage of government renewable heat incentives with certain suppliers just for being a customer. These incentives could help offset future energy costs.
- Water use is often overlooked. Use cost effective tap inserts or even flow restrictors within the water pipes. Waterless urinals can have a huge impact. Installing recycled water systems that collect rainwater or recycle grey water may also help, but this depends on office set-up.
Your overall goal, regardless of who you are, is to reduce operation costs. In the meantime, you are helping with efforts to keep the planet clean and minimizing waste of our planet’s resources.
LOOKY HERE, WE, AT INIBII, DO THAT.
We’re a technology firm specializing in the development of the tools that help organizations create mechanisms for the receipt of data in a manner that makes sense for them. One tool we’ve developed is particularly focused on energy consumption data for building owners and facility managers. This tool is a cloud-based Energy Management Platform: This platform is uniquely beneficial to the organizations that employ it.
The Energy Management Platform:
Analyzes energy consumption, building specification, occupant behavior, environmental and weather data to provide powerful insights and actionable information to lower energy usage;
Uses a machine learning algorithm that is constantly learning, evolving and adapting to provide predictive analytics on energy usage; and,
Employs the use of IoT enabled sensors and controllers to: 1) Precisely measure energy usage, 2) Receive alerts, and 3) Automate energy conservation.
While the data provided by the Energy Management Platform can open doors to inefficiency, they can also be used to implement targeted energy savings initiatives to benefit an organization’s consumption patterns.
Can you think of all the ways this technology can help your organization decrease its energy footprint on Earth?
How many inefficiencies can you eradicate?
Throughout this blog, we’ve placed a heavy emphasis on using data to shed light on the context in which it’s compiled. We ended by letting you know that we’re specialists in helping people like you develop the tools you need to gather data, create your perspective, and use it to better your business or organization. Want to begin a discussion? Click here.
References: Belfiore, Michael. 2016, July, 28. How 10 industries are using big data to win big.
DOE Energy Information Administration. Residential Energy Consumption Survey.
Retrieved from http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/recs/contents.html
Energystar.gov Water Heater, Whole Home Gas Tankless.