There’s a very big pile of money to be made – by business users, a new wave of software vendors and investors alike – as innovators derive fresh economic value from the galaxy of data within our grasp. A new breed of data experts are aggregating, curating, enhancing and transforming data gems from online, archived Web and public offline sources. IDC has dubbed this the value-added content market (VAC), estimating a massive potential market size, noting that 48 percent of organizations today already “purchase or subscribe to external data or content from either public or commercial sources.”
While big data is not new, the VAC market’s core values are creating entirely new partnerships, service providers and M&A deals. This fast-moving convergence is the new Big Bang in the universe of information technology.
Content (beyond your own borders) is king
Big data that goes far beyond the enterprise is available like never before, and the need to translate it has caused a new fervor. Indeed, a new market-making force is underway and brand new universes of value and vendors are forming. This all comes as the cloud enables new economies of scale and an inexpensive means to globalize. Like stars aligning into constellations after the Big Bang, we are seeing established and emerging data providers expanding and coalescing around new business models.
However, instead of the value-add spinning inside individual vendor ecosystems, the value today is spinning around the data itself – that is, around the “value-added content.”
Today’s new world of data encompasses many petabytes of data openly available online and offline, extending far beyond corporate data stores. This is crucial because no matter how clever your analysis of internal sales reports, customer interactions and manufacturing processes, you still don’t have sufficient insight into what the next product should be, where the latest consumer needs are going or which markets are reaching critical mass. Similarly, while analyzing customer feedback from email messages, comment forms and feedback systems can produce intriguing anecdotes, those anecdotes are all based on internal sources, not market intelligence.
Whereas those who tap into the vast universe of publicly available content could indeed find out what customers are buying from competitors, or the going salary offered by others in your industry. There are literally billions of unstructured data objects available online and offline in places like social media, case studies, press releases, blog posts, government documents, content libraries, technical support forums, website source code, job postings and other openly available sources.
Tapping into this brings us to a new inflection point. Value-added content is intelligence that the individual enterprise can’t produce on its own, but which it needs to support fully informed business decisions and higher-level workflows.
It’s radically different than enterprise data, and requires an extremely different approach to gleaning value.
Populating a new galaxy
In this emerging universe, we’re seeing a dizzying array of new third-party data providers focused on aggregating, curating, enhancing or transforming this new bang of data. We’re also seeing new models from established players and a frenzied pace of mergers and acquisitions and, most interestingly, new levels of co-opetition between vendors that transform content, for example, and those who curate the content. So far, I’m not seeing the monolithic “one company will rule” model.
Stalwarts such as LexisNexis and Dun & Bradstreet are finding new applications for their wares; and in many cases, that includes teaming with the new wave of data providers. Myriad newcomers like Equilar (employee compensation), OmniEarth (geographic data), Datamyne (export-import) and WANTED (staffing) are emerging to address modern business needs. Recent M&A deals, including Datalogix by Oracle, NetProspex by Dun & Bradstreet and Bizo by LinkedIn reveal the shift toward new paradigms. And venture capital firms can’t get enough of big data and its successful offshoots, from Palantir (data analysis) to HG Data (installed technologies tracking) and DataSift (human data intelligence).
The formula is becoming clear, and the old school enterprise behemoths are still part of the picture, but they’re not the whole picture. Whatever major information platforms the enterprise is using – from Salesforce.com to SAP R/3 – the winning approach is to tap proprietary silos, add the new value-added content, use internal data crunchers and analytics boutiques to deduce value, integrate the results into workflows and display it with intuitive visualization tools.
Blending these established and evolving models for data gathering and analysis will help you acquire your portion of the new galaxy that is emerging from data’s Big Bang.
Tim Baskerville is president of HG Data International and serves as non-executive chairman of WANTED Technologies Corp. [WAN.V]. He is a B2B information veteran and has served as CEO of JupiterResearch, president of Kagan Research, founder of multinational B2B publisher Baskerville Communications (London) and operator of Vidmar Communications.