A customer of mine has been doing some stunning leading edge things including: (1) leveraging their back-end SOA services, (2) exposing API’s to their Partners, and (3) integrating seamlessly with various social media sites. These initiatives are delivering real-world value to their customers, and in the process, they are capturing Data – Lots of Data. When I asked them what they intended to do with the data, they replied, “well, we aren’t really sure just yet, we’re thinking that we’ll just “Big Data It Later”.
While seemingly indifferent and haphazard, it’s actually an intelligent strategy. Creating a “Big Data Lake” to be dissected and analyzed later to find value and relevancy is a brilliant move, and often requires the skills and in-depth analysis from an experienced Data Scientist/Analyst. Turn these Analysts loose, and let them swim in the lake with snorkel and fins to find the sunken treasure of relevant insights. However, once those relevant insights are discovered – then what? Sure, it’s possible to slice and dice data through Visualization Tools to make more informed decisions about their business. But even greater value can be unlocked from binding those findings/insights into data/system streams through API’s. By so doing, it then becomes possible to leverage and analyze tons of data to act upon emerging trends well before they become apparent (if ever) to the average user. An example of this phenomenon include: factoring in the temperature, time of day, click stream analysis, client device (Mobile, Mac/Windows), Account Balance, and Social Media References, to present their customer with the best offer/up-sell opportunity. Think Amazon’s Recommendation Engine on Steroids!
Of course, exposing this extrapolated and synthesized data through API’s opens up a world of options regarding how you harness, expose and leverage information. API’s open up Mobile, along with “The Internet of Things” through expanded access (either as a contributing data source, or application access). More examples of integration points for competitive advantage may include: rank ordering outbound call lists for inside sales, incorporating relationships within marketing campaigns to boost effectiveness, improving policy risk analysis, improving portfolio investment and hedging strategies, and multi-dimensional demand planning for manufacturing to name just a few. I’m sure that once you embark on the journey of asking “what if” you too will soon discover a treasure trove of endless possibilities to inject all sorts’ insights gleaned from Big Data through APi’s into your business.