Apps & Cloud3 min read

Make the Data Dance: How Startups Teach a Masterclass to Big Players

Martin Hosken
Scanrail - Fotolia
Modern web network and internet telecommunication technology, big data storage and cloud computing computer service business concept: server room interior in datacenter in blue light

What do a logistics trucking company (Convoy), a self-charging gadget business (Exeger), and a restaurant food-waste app (Too Good To Go) all have in common? A rapid execution on ideas. And these startups are taking market share from established players, creating new relationships with customers in the process.   

Although equipped with the manpower and budgets to experiment with cloud, AI, deep neural networks/deep learning, IoT and machine learning, big businesses can be rattled by newcomer expertise. As natural risk-takers, start-ups often have the edge. As Don Dodge of Google explained more than ten years ago: "Start-ups play poker, big companies play chess." They are faster and savvier, turning ideas into revenue opportunities by using data to inform their next move.  

This idea that all companies have access to the same data but struggle to turn it into actionable insights as they grow, is what formed the thesis of our recent collaboration with Bayes Business School. Here, we revealed nearly three-quarters (70%) of businesses are struggling to unlock the value of their data – directly impacting their ability to innovate. Moreover, 59% believe organisations who are prioritising data-led decision making are stealing market share, with 58% fearing they will fall behind the competition if they do not make better use of their data.  

Making frenemies with data  

However, start-ups, like Exeger and Convoy are bucking this trend, with a disruptor mindset driven by data, to develop new digital solutions and innovative business models. Convoy realised freight resembled the traveling salesman problem (in which the employee is given a list of cities and has to decide the shortest possible route between them), and built software that incorporates shipment criteria with real-time supply and demand data to generate matches with the fewest empty miles at the lowest price.

With that data-driven insight, they have been able to flip the freight business model on its head.

Keeping pace in the innovation race

Striving to be at the forefront of their market, every business is taking part in the innovation race. It’s here that having the right cloud for the right app to manage, access and draw insights from data as a company scales is critical.

So how does an established business compete against its more nimble, agile, data-driven rivals? We’ve identified four tips to help businesses keep pace in the innovation race:

  • Build a multi-cloud strategy to seamlessly manage two or more public clouds, two or more private clouds or a combination of public, sovereign, private and edge clouds over which the company distributes applications and services with all the same tools.
  • Use your data in the right way. Companies need to adopt a flexible and scalable digital architecture to consolidate, share and analyse all existing information. This is the basis for informed decision-making.
  • Pursue an evolving portfolio of innovations to explore new opportunities while mitigating risks. With an unpredictable economic environment, rather than plan everything meticulously and focus all their resources into one big idea, successful organisations are taking a more iterative approach to innovation – adjusting along the way as needed.
  • Partnerships: Employ external specialist providers of technologies, infrastructures, services and skills to ensure the organisation’s digital capabilities stay at the cutting edge.

The sheer volume of data available to businesses is already significant and expected to almost double in the next three years. This means leaders need to adapt and face the challenge to extract value head-on.

Turning cloud complexity into competitive advantage

A multi-cloud strategy is vital for digital businesses whose most valuable assets – apps, data, workforce, and infrastructure - are distributed anywhere and everywhere. Such an approach enables them to quickly build at scale; reducing data, interoperability and cost issues typical of a single cloud environment.

For seamless and investment worthy multi-cloud integration, organisations can take a cloud-smart approach – choosing the right cloud environment for the right application, choosing which applications to re-architect, which to rebuild from scratch and which to lift, shift and modernise.

With this approach in place, enterprises can operate in much the same fashion that start-ups do preparing for the digital age with one key question in mind – how can we maximise the data available to us to ensure we can innovate, at pace and deliver the experiences our customers want?