The marketplace for business data

Will you be a winner or a loser in the Information Age?

Posted 2015-11-09 by Will Hickson

Length: 742 words; Time to read: 3 minutes

“Twenty-five or 30 years ago, the thing that was differentiating companies was how well managed they are. But if you think about the companies that have just kicked butt in the past decade, they are deep-domain, technology-led, innovative companies—Google, Amazon, Apple. So I think this notion of, if the only common thread you have as an industrial company is the fact that you think you’re well managed, you can still be a pretty good company, but you’re not going to be a dominant company, a competitive company over time.” 

Jeff Immelt, GE CEO

Despite struggling with the pivots to mobile, cloud and search, Microsoft shares provided a decent return over the last ten years:


Certainly better than Blackberry, who lost their way:


But of course the main games in town were being played out at Apple and Google:


Jeff Immelt’s quote above was in the context of the investment they are making in software and in particular in the Predix data analytics platform. GE is targeting $15bn of revenue from the data analytics / software business by 2020 – or about 14% of 2014 industrial revenues. That may not sound much as a percentage of overall revenues but that is $15bn of high margin business that would have accrued somewhere else without a proactive step into the world of data analytics.

GE have realized that at major turning points in economic opportunity, the returns do not accrue evenly and they had no choice other than to be in the game.

Will your company be a Blackberry, a Microsoft or a Google of the data world in ten years’ time?

As we’ve reached out to players in the data world in our marketing of we’ve developed a ringside view of the changes taking place. There’s a new breed of data businesses popping up, and they are challenging longstanding assumptions around how data is gathered, distributed and consumed. Innovative new ways to collect data (devices and sensors, crowdsourcing), cloud based storage, and interactive, demand-driven API consumption are catering to the needs of a new set of customers (people and machines) who want to pay for only what they need and seek multiple sources of data to test in their algorithms.

Let’s look at a couple of examples in two different sectors – Real Estate and Energy. Compstak employs a crowdsourced model to gather commercial real estate information for investors, brokers, asset managers and appraisers. Participants can contribute comps in any format they like, and Compstak applies data science techniques to add value to that raw data and create meaningful insight into the comps that matter to a researcher or potential buyer. If you’re a data provider in the comps market, how are you responding to this?

In the Energy Sector, AutoGrid is applying big data innovation to take advantage of the terabytes of data being collected from smart meters, to provide energy companies with improved tools for forecasting power use and distribution strategies, amongst other use cases. It takes data-driven decision making for the Energy industry to the next level with real time information and advanced analytics.

Focusing on the next set of customer problems you would like to tackle, and understanding the way in which new emerging capabilities could play a part is a good starting point for assessing the threats and opportunities in your current data offerings. How would you customers or your internal processes benefit if your data was:

  • closer to real-time?
  • embedded into your customer’s workflows?
  • priced on a usage rather than subscription basis?
  • available in the cloud?
  • Inter-operable with other third party data?
  • enhanced with new collection mechanisms (sensors, crowdsourcing etc)?
  • supplemented with predictive analytics?

This is a challenging environment to think about, and ensure that your company is not a footnote of history in ten years. The good news is there is time to do so now, and abundant opportunity for the brave! That’s one of the emerging opportunities we identified as we developed the concept. provides Data Explorer, a marketplace and platform where you can start to experiment and innovate at low cost – run some experiments on pricing, bundling or new data analytics. In addition we’re using our marketing dollars to help you find new buyers of your data.

I’d be happy to spend more time sharing some of our insights in the emerging world of data, and how can help you. Just drop me an email and we’ll set up some time.

About the author

Will Hickson

Will is a senior data executive with extensive experience across the spectrum of data management and analytics, and a deep understanding of what it takes to find, wrangle and incorporate data into your business decision making workflow. His previous roles include periods working at some of the world’s most forward thinking firms, including Thomson Reuters and Bridgewater Associates, as analyst, data manager, data buyer, business owner amongst other roles.

Will is a passionate data evangelist and happy to engage in a conversation anytime to talk about the opportunities and share war stories. When he’s not got his geek hat on, you will find him on the tennis court or at the piano.

Latest Blog posts