What does it mean to be a data-first company in practice?

There are data 'lighthouses' all over the world, in every sphere. Here we follow the guiding lights from the financial services sector, healthcare and the growing connected vehicles industry.

By Ihab El Ghazzawi, Global Messaging Director, Emerging Technologies & Thought Leadership, Dell Technologies

Many different types of organizations, from the artisan craft beer supplier to multi-national fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are using data in ingenious ways, to answer big questions and make new discoveries faster. It’s not happening on a ubiquitous scale but there are pockets of excellence everywhere.

Here we provide a glimpse of best practices in action, across two highly regulated sectors: healthcare and financial services, as well as an emerging sector: intelligent connected vehicles, to showcase how data is transforming business, and by association, the customer experience.

Connected Health

Just a few years ago, connected health was considered the holy grail – something you desperately sought and needed but seemed hard to achieve. Less so today. The industry has made large strides in connecting doctors to data, patients to healthcare providers, and practices to networks— with the goal of delivering more integrated care and health outcomes, to save lives.

With Edge and IoT devices, healthcare leaders are identifying opportunities to derive actionable insights at source, so responses can be quicker and safer. However, it’s still a challenge to get patient data to the right people at the right time. Some of the difficulty stems from a lack of integration and interoperability. New technology vendors entering the healthcare space continue to build closed IoT devices that obstruct data sharing. That said, there are exemplars of data excellence in healthcare.

One is Gustave Roussy in France, the premier European cancer center, committed to placing innovation at the heart of a human, scientific and technological revolution in the fight against cancer. Through a holistic IT transformation, the time taken to turn data into clinical value is decreasing, enabling Gustave Roussy to break new ground in research by harnessing AI to develop faster diagnosis, more personalized treatment and less invasive medicine. Patients’ genetic information (DNA, RNA and whole exome) along with clinical diagnostics provide further valuable data that can be used to improve future outcomes for both the patient and the broader population.

“Gustave Roussy is making tremendous advancements, mastering huge amount of genomic and clinical data thanks to high-performance client systems running on a hyperconverged infrastructure linked with hybrid scale-out NAS, under the safest conditions.”

– Mikael Azoulay, Chief Information Officer and Yannick Boursin, Deputy CIO and CISO, Gustave Roussy

Another is McLaren Racing, a motorsport racing team that has managed an extraordinary pivot and applied its experience in using real-time data captured from over 300 sensors in one car alone to device strategies to compete in F1 races across the globe – to improve patient care and enable people to live healthier lives. McLaren Applied is analyzing data to identify the onset of illness earlier and predict patient outcomes more accurately. It recently partnered with a British pharmaceutical company to monitor recovery in stroke victims and people suffering from severe arthritis, using smart sensors and data analytics. Previously, clinicians could only track a patient’s health when they physically visited the clinic. Now they can virtually and continuously monitor patient recovery by correlating a wearer’s activity and gait profile with disease progression.

Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg, but they represent the immense, and still largely untapped potential to innovate within the confines of a heavily regulated market. Consider what can be achieved when industry and government work in lockstep to make these regulations fit for the data era.

Connected Financial Services

The financial services sector is possibly the most data-intensive sector in the global economy. Banks preside over enormous amounts of customer data, from deposits/withdrawals at ATMs, purchases at point-of-sales, payments done online, customer profile data collected for Know Your Customer etc.

There is real opportunity to turn this sea of data into powerful, actionable insights. For instance, imagine you’re a start-up bank with a vision to serve the under-banked – encompassing individuals with a poor credit rating or start-ups in need of a loan. By harnessing data, you can better predict the risks, and provide tailored financial packages that help businesses and individuals alike attain financial enfranchisement, without sacrificing your margins. You’d become a beacon in the industry and your peers would try and replicate your success.

Quickly pockets of the financial services industry would transform, as entrants with bold new ideas and the wherewithal to make them happen move in from the fringes. Age-old financial institutions would seek to transform in-step, by breaking data out of silos and turning insights into vehicles for innovation.

The Australian Securities Exchange is a fascinating example of an FS organization harnessing the power of emerging technologies to evolve. Over the last three years it embarked upon a successful infrastructure modernization program. As part of this, it is exploring distributed ledgers (Blockchain) to create a private permission network that will make clearing, settlement, and financial markets in Australia safer and more transparent.

At the heart of this move was a focus on data. According to Dan Chesterman, CIO of the Australian Securities and Exchange, blockchain will provide a harmonized data model, available in near real-time, but with privacy and confidentiality assured. So, if they need to review a share transaction for instance, they will be able to immediately access all the data they need, without having to reconcile different versions of the data that’s been replicated across different parts of their infrastructure.

Connected Vehicles

Cars aren’t just mechanical vehicles anymore, they’re computers, they’re mobility ecosystems, and they’re fitted with hundreds of sensors which can be used to pull in all sorts of valuable data, as Otonomo knows very well.

Using connected car data, Otonomo has built a data platform that enables the innovation of new auto and auto-adjacent services focused on driver safety, traffic management, smart cities, fleet operations, innovative insurance, parking, concierge services, and more. It gathers, cleans and normalizes vast amounts of data that can then be queried with smart questions, to return smart answers.

The benefits are manifold. For instance, insights can be used to help vehicle companies strengthen customer relationships. In the distant past, these companies enjoyed a monopoly. They owned the gas stations and the repair shops. Today there are fewer touch points with customers. As such these ties are being challenged.

However, even this can also be remedied with data. Automotive OEMs may not operate a monopoly anymore but they have access to vast amounts of car data that can be used to provide novel new services, from predictive maintenance alerts and on-demand car washes to parking spot detection and assistance with roadside assistance.

“Vehicle data can also be used on a macro level. By studying data from vehicles, the local authorities can better limit road congestion, reduce pollution levels, suggest effective re-routing options and so on. There is a myriad of benefits, some of which haven’t even been conceived yet.”

– Ben Volkow, Founder and CEO, Otonomo

With data platforms like Otonomo’s, as the volume of data grows, so do the opportunities to put that data to work in powerful new ways. The only thing limiting data’s potential is our imagination.

Of course, there are more factors to overcome in order to put autonomous cars on every road, but data is still the central ingredient for making these vehicles safe and ubiquitous. With algorithms for computer vision, sensor fusion, decision making and vehicle control, autonomous vehicles will process data inputs as a human would, to recognize cars, people, signs, lane markers and everything else that comes into view on a roadway.

Data – the key to unlocking the human-machine partnership potential

While the financial services and healthcare industries are transforming to use data better, the connected and autonomous vehicle industry is entirely predicated on the power of data and they’re taking older, more conservative parts of the automotive industry along with them for the journey.

In fact, across all industries, data no longer merely supports the business; it is the business. The increasing value of data is driving organizations to retain more information so that they can explore new opportunities to increase customer loyalty, bring new services to market, and compete more effectively.

As the volume, variety and velocity of data grows at a rapid pace, all organizations will need to develop robust data management strategies. In this data decade, use cases will abound. CIOs will need to help the wider business connect the dots so they can see the prodigious opportunity in front of them.

As Jordon Howard, a Social Good Strategist, millennial, and Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies “Human-Machine Partnership” workshop delegate once said: “Many of the complex issues facing society today are rooted in waste, inefficiency, and simply not knowing stuff, like how to stop certain genes from mutating. What if we could solve these problems by pairing up more closely with machines and using the mass of data they provide to make breakthroughs at speed? As a team, we can aim higher, dream bigger, and accomplish more.”