Industrial intelligence – risks or benefits?

Many companies still have an extremely ambivalent view of big data. They consider the risks to be too great, with hackers and the threat of data misuse spreading fear and alarm. Yet there is surely a much greater risk of letting others take advantage of the economic opportunities offered by analyzing and evaluating big data. Ultimately, severe competitive disadvantages could harm business.

In the worst case, companies will lose their direct contact with their customers and thus the key players in their value creation chain. Digitalization is continuing apace, with structured and unstructured internal and external data converging. Every second the rate increases. When analyzed and processed in a targeted way, the vast quantities of digital data reveal previously unknown patterns, relationships and facts. This enables companies to not only operate more efficiently but also make faster decisions and more accurate forecasts.

Harnessing hidden know-how

The opportunities created using big data analyses are just as varied as the data itself and its relationships. Maintenance forecasts prevent machine downtimes, for example, and raise productivity. Sales forecasts provide precise answers on sales of specific products for weeks ahead. Real-time analyses enable sound decision-making in terms of quality and damage management and in prioritizing supply contracts. Production keeps flowing thanks to predictive logistics. Companies can deliver their advice to customers more effectively and make tailored offers. However, the data also provides a systematic tool for examining all cost options, minimizing risks, optimizing business processes and even identifying and harnessing completely new market potential.

A question of interpretation

In order to obtain useful information for companies from this data, it ideally needs to be processed in real time and, first and foremost, interpreted correctly. In other words, the quality of data itself is a source of risk that must not be underestimated. Good decisions and accurate forecasts can only be achieved if data is complete and its quality assured. This makes it all the more important to get the right partners on board – big data experts that extract, process and interpret the correct data from the excessive flood of information using the correct systems. Many companies can soon be overwhelmed given the variety, speed and quantity of data. This calls for a strategy, and those looking to take part in the gold rush need to plan carefully and, as well as using external advisors, develop appropriate know-how in their own companies across all levels and departments.

Disruptive business models

Many companies are still shying away from this outlay in terms of manpower and other resources. Studies show that just one percent of data generated in production is currently being used. This highlights the enormous untapped potential offered by the manufacturing industry. However, this also presents the greatest risk for many companies. It isn’t the supposed lack of security for corporate data that is becoming a risk – this can be eliminated using the IT technologies available on the market – but rather the unused opportunities. The consequence is then that new players with new business models suddenly dominate the market, squeezing out the offerings of established companies and reducing them to niche products. To combat this, manufacturers need to use data and their platform based networking to develop completely new services with real added value for customers.