Companies who have collected and analysed data over the years have often exhibited a considerable competitive edge; none more so than Google, who have taken data acquisition for advertising revenue to extremes – often at the expense of popularity with some who take exception to this level of data mining.
However, the quantity of data now available to companies (particularly with the response to the call for open data from government bodies) means that any company, large or small, can begin to build exciting and useful ‘maps’ of customer preferences and locations, (think of the information about you that a supermarket loyalty card generates) as well as create business tools, e.g. route maps for most efficient delivery routes based on when a customer will be available to sign for a parcel.
As we all know, possibly the most useful information your website can provide for your business is the statistics available from your analytics package. However, this wealth of information is often only given the most cursory attention, meaning that much that could be learned is ignored. Beyond your own data provided by your web analytics service, there are a number of sources making data available to all, including government departments – check http://www.data.gov.uk for an enormous range of data and new mash-ups of the data of interest to every British citizen as well as businesses.
For more on how data mining is changing our lives, this article in The Telegraph provides some very interesting new uses of data: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/7963311/10-ways-data-is-changing-how-we-live.html