Data Frankenstein: Bringing Old Business Data Back to Life

Data never dies. People assume that databases are only as good as the lists of facts they contain but, in fact, every bank of information is a rich source of new knowledge and a foundation for additional findings. You might think that that information can’t change – but you’d be wrong.

Algorithms can analyze information in ways that identify new patterns or draw new connections with meaning. Those new interpretations create new value. They can also update old data so that what used to be useless storage suddenly takes on new life. Many people are familiar with customer relationship management (CRM) technologies like Salesforce and Marketo, which work with historical data and keep contact lists updated. But what they often don’t realize is that those same technologies could be unleashed on other corporate data, too, with huge potential upsides. Many business owners and department leaders are sitting on mounds of incredibly valuable information that they don’t think they can access or reuse.

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Turning Old Data into New Data

The easiest way to drive new meaning from old data is to interpret it in a new way. For most businesses, this means analytics. Are there patterns in your company or team’s past performance that could indicate something about its future? Are there consistent obstacles that might be anticipated? What seems to bring the most success? Using new tools to take a fresh look at old information could result in huge insights and benefits for your company.

But it’s not just about getting creative with your analytics. You also can rejuvenate old data by using it as a framework for new information. We are starting to see new technologies emerge that update automatically, so any information we access through those programs is consistently reliable. This means that we are headed toward a future in which outdated data is nonexistent, and the implications are huge.

For an example of how a system can be broadened and scaled out at a corporate scale, look at how your Human Resources department tracks job candidates today. Talent acquisition teams often use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to monitor their potential contacts. Seventy-five percent of companies use some type of ATS, and most contain millions of records. These tracking systems are essentially the digital version of a Rolodex, into which recruiters can manually input information about the candidates they are working with – tracking contact materials, background info, etc. They have to track everyone they are interested in (for reaching out), everyone they are not interested in from the past (to avoid contacting them a second time), and everyone in whom they might be interested. These systems are absolutely packed with valuable information. The problem is, it’s old.

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Applicant Tracking Systems can be useful for new recruiters trying to keep track of new prospective hires filtering through, but they are time-consuming and quickly outdated. As soon as anyone in the system gets a new email address, learns a new skill, or takes a new job, the validity of the whole system is compromised – and 30 percent of people change their email address every year.;

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