A couple of hundred years ago nearly every European country was engaged in some sort of military conflict which led either Napoleon or Frederick the Great to state that “an army marches on its stomach.” The point being that logistics are the most important when it comes to having a successful army. These days the corporate equivalent would be that a company marches on its data.

Every company claims to be data driven and there’s a slew of data collected about us each day. The most successful companies are able to leverage this data and use it to derive insights that drive direction. Unsuccessful companies may collect the same data but don’t leverage in an impactful way. It’s easy to collect information but it’s a huge challenge to turn into action. There are many options just for storing the data: one approach may make it easy to store tons of data while making it hard to run large scale analyses while another allows for a distributed computation approach that’s too slow. Beyond data storage there’s the actual analysis piece: what’s the appropriate model to use that can represent the relationships between the variables while being true to life? All these are questions that will become increasingly critical and separate the winners from the losers. Data itself has potential for massive monopoly feedback loops - companies that succeed are able to collect more and more which improves their product which collects more data. Right now it may only seem as if larger companies should care but I suspect within the next 10 years we’ll see more and more small and local businesses adopt a truly data-driven approach, whether through internal tools or through external services

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