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Its time Latin American corporations acquaint themselves with the value of data

MIAMI, USA: Every second of every day, banks, retailers, payments organizations and a broad network of companies spread across the Latin American region play perfect host to a massive flowing river of transactional data. Starting from the tiny ripples involving single transactions to huge waves of batch settlements, this information comes from the end of customers, merchants and even third parties as well.

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Street art Mural as seen at Buenos  Aires

Most of this data is recorded and stored for invoicing, account statements, auditing as well as fraud prevention, but it’s poorly exploited when it comes to generating new revenue sources and businesses.

That’s right – for one’s guesses are as good as anybody’s for that matter, businesses, it is! Those innumerable daily transactions encompassing data certainly have real value and are the “prima material” or for that matter, source material for improving profitability, efficiency, customer experience as well as customer loyalty besides fashioning new and finished products. How, is this possible seems to be the writing on that Brainstorming wall. Well, here are five initial steps one can undertake to start monetizing the company’s data:-

Start thinking about institutionalizing the approach to data – The initial step is to promote an informed discussion about the value one can begin to extrapolate from what one have and its potential value to others inside and outside the organization in question.

What would it look like if the company started to institutionalize the capture, storage, analysis and application of data? Clearly enough, the assistance of a business intelligence and analytics specialist would be of significant value in this process. It may also be useful to create a steering committee with specialists as well as resource persons from various business areas.

Audit the current data – Establish the size and nature of the data that your company has by undertaking a comprehensive audit. Where is it stored? Is it centralized or dispersed? How many customer records and data points does one have?

How far back do they go and across how many different markets? How much of a customer’s “life journey” is one holding? What kind of predictive insights and behavioral patterns might be possible with the data at hand, such as: what does one buy, when does one buy and how often does one take out cash? Finally, what does one know about demographic profiles?

Assign a data manager – To truly maximize revenue or any other tangible value from the data at the offing, someone must own responsibility for it. These experts are increasingly specialized and having coveted talents and like all human resources, recruiting happens to be the key aspect.

Also, when one finds the dead-on leader, one needs to make sure that the person concerned has an important seat at the executive table. In today and tomorrow’s world, data managers will have a major strategic influence as contrasting to the current operational role of cliquishly status quo-ed custodians and safe-keepers of data.

Package and make the data work – Determining the best delivery vehicles for new data-based products or services targeted toward existing and/or new customers is a considerable, but worthy challenge. Through business analytics and intelligence, the newly collected and organized data will reveal insights and understanding into how the company’s bottom line and thrust can be improved by, viz: –

1) Streamlining current business processes

2) Revealing new revenue sources and models

3) Providing opportunities to frame, package and brand the data to be shared externally.

The possibilities include geo-localization, proximity +NFC, apps for mobiles, imaging and M2M among others.

Embrace emerging-payment systems – As non-traditional or emerging-payment platforms (such as mobile phones and wallets) grow in their use, the ensuing scene then goes on to represent what can be summed up as a rich data pool. However the picture which tends to come to the fore is that many companies are not taking advantage of such emerging payments and thus are losing out on opportunities for new revenue streams. One needs to make sure and embrace emerging-payments systems in order to capture as much data as possible.

As the continuous buzz around big data turns to increased action in the Latin American region, some eminent and long-term challenges which need to be addressed diligently reads in the order as:

Digital payments: If the formal economies are flowing rivers of data, the juxtaposed informal economies are akin to what may be summed up as vast, opaque lakes. One has heard for many years about the near legendary war on cash, but this initiative is going to make its presence felt increasingly relevant in order to broaden our digital world and break down its current edges.

The talent question: A new generation of talent is quintessential to carry these practices forward and improvise on them each. The questions which springs up then is that – where will the new resources be trained in order to effectively wield these powerful tools?

Security: The standards and local laws will need to be up to the task of addressing the risks associated with bad practices and misuses of data and of protecting consumers in particular.

Collaboration: Good data are like good ingredients. Certain combinations can be extremely delicious and even nourishing. In the face of all this, will the companies learn to share data or will the strong culture of competition and suspicion keep one away from great things? Can Mankind envision a “First Bank of Data” for sharing of information or will it come across as some utilitarian dream?

These and a motley of other questions arise in the mind when contemplating as to how will patrons, users and clientele relate to data tomorrow. Whatever the futuristic answers are, one thing is for sure: the time to start thinking about data differently was yesterday.

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Jawed Akhtar

A Journalist by interest and a Music Enthusiast by passion. Wedded to Mother Nature, Jawed indulges his aesthetics in travelling and reading books of varied genres. Having covered News stories for top Dailies in his formative years, that is, he is game for tryst with Technology at Techmagnifier.

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