The gold rush is on again, and once again it is centerd on the American West. The original gold rush started at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma. This time round, it is starting in Silicon Valley, and you will need more than a pan and a slice of luck to find your fortune.
With the big data revolution showing no signs of slowing down, many companies – and more than a few governments - are recognising that it is data itself that will drive the tech products of tomorrow, and are hoovering up vast amounts of the stuff. The monetizing of this data is, for some, becoming a 21st-century gold rush.
Data driven products are, of course, nothing new. One of the more straightforward ways that data has been collected and sold is through health monitoring products, with companies like Fitbit and Jawbone selling devices that track everything from your heart rate to how many steps you take each day. You pay a one-off fee for your wearable device, and you get to see all your own health data. Simple.
Increasingly though, companies are coming up with more ingenious ways to use data to provide services. Now the data itself is of value, rather than the product.
Witness the Alarm.com senior citizen monitoring system, which collects data from the homes of your loved ones and uses algorithms to keep you informed of any problems that might be about to arise, such as erratic behaviour or changes in sleep patterns.
That sort of data surveillance may be a little too Orwellian for some, but it is behind the scenes that data services are really coming into their own. These are not gimmicky products, but instead offer serious data aids and solutions to existing businesses.
For example, an increasing number of companies offer call center CRM services, whereby data on a particular customer is centralized and presented to the operative as they are on the call, thereby helping to provide the service or make the sale. Nest, with its smart home thermostat, collects the data from homes which can then be de-personalized and trends analysed to help manage national electricity and gas requirements. The UK’s National Grid is already beginning to make use of ‘smart energy’ by turning some hotel aircon off for short, unnoticeable periods during peak times.