Leveraging Digital Data Streams and Analytics

By Madeline Weiss

Digital data are being created at the rate of 2.5 to 3 quintillion bytes daily, according to such disparate sources as IBM and Dilbert. The data are created from customer transactions; company operations; vehicles; consumers using the Internet; digital cameras; sensors on machines, inanimate objects; and animals—the list goes on. Enterprises need to pay attention to this deluge of data because it creates storage challenges that must be deal with, and this data can be a source of company value.

The CIO members of the Society for Information Management (SIM) Advanced Practices Council (APC), a forum for senior IT executives, have been learning how to harness real-time digital data streams (DDS) to increase revenues and profits, gain operational efficiency and achieve competitive advantage.  

At the May 2012 APC meeting, they met with Bryan Mistele, founder of INRIX, a company that forecasts traffic conditions by combining real-time data from more than 600,000 GPS-enabled vehicles with data from multiple private and public sources (e.g., road work, accidents, events, policy activity, historical traffic patterns).

INRIX operates in more than 30 countries and powers navigation devices for major automobile manufacturers worldwide. It delivers traffic broadcasts globally and provides traffic advice through Android and iPhone apps. The forecasting engine that analyzes the data in real time is a sophisticated set of algorithms that’s capable of accounting for dozens of variables (including weather conditions, construction schedules, holidays, sporting events and historical traffic patterns) to provide more than 100 million people with real-time predictive traffic information.

INRIX’s story is not only about creating a successful new company by harnessing real-time digital data streams along with predictive analytics. It’s also about creating new value for existing companies.

At this same meeting, APC members met with researchers Gabriel Piccoli and Federico Pigni, who presented these five value-creation archetypes for extracting value from DDS (Harvesting External Data: The Potential of Digital Data Streams, Gabriel Piccoli and Federico Pigni, Advanced Practices Council publication, 2012).

·        DDS generation

·        DDS aggregation

·        Service

·        Efficiency

·        Analytics

DDS Generation

The firm originates the stream knowingly or unknowingly. TripIt generates a simple, mobile travel itinerary with travel details from an individual’s flight, hotel and rental car confirmation emails that can be accessed either online or from a mobile device. It streams the itinerary to partners that can harvest it and create value-added services based on the TripIt platform. For example, Expensewatch.com automatically computes expense reports.

DDS Aggregation

The firm collects, aggregates and repurposes DDS. INRIX aggregates data from multiple sources to create its predictions. Socrata.com aggregates federal, state and local data, making it available in one-stop fashion to the public.