Marketing & commerce

“Data changes the information society”

June 16, 2015 | 2 min read

Businesses and professionals are not yet fully aware that the availability of data in society changes industries and the way we do business, says Sander Klous, managing director of Big Data Analytics at KPMG and professor of TIAS master class Digital & Social Strategy.

Image: © Nationale Beeldbank

“Data changes the information society. It began with the advent of the Internet 20 years ago. Some industries, such as the music industry, changed drastically because of that. Twenty years ago you put on CDs, now you stream music through Spotify. And in between people downloaded illegally from Napster and BitTorrent. The industry has been turned upside down. in the Netherlands is a good example of a company in the travel industry that uses this changing stream of information. But other businesses in the industry have suffered. Especially now with Airbnb."

Is there enough realization of how society is changing?

“There is, of course, a gut feeling that something is happening, but practically no one really thinks about it. Research by the National Think Tank last year showed that 80% of Dutch people have never heard of Big Data. Others have heard of it, know they must be doing something with it, but do not know how or what."

What will happen when companies do not change?

"Just look at the examples, if companies do not recognize that there is something going on in their industry, it could have disastrous consequences. And if you do recognize it, then it offers opportunities. It is the difference between life and death, really. By the way, recognizing it and then working with it, is not that easy. Sometimes it is unclear whether a trend will also turn the world upside down. Think of Bitcoins, for example. If you decide to get in on the act now, you are not yet too late, but we do not know whether it will be a success."

How can a company protect itself against it?

“A company must be agile. That is a term that comes from the IT world, but the concept goes beyond just IT. A company must be able to experiment with trends without having to place the entire business at risk. Some companies set up separate departments that can do that, others try to make it part of their standard business operations."

You give lectures on this subject. Has there ever been a company that got an unexpected insight after one of the lectures?

"I gave this lecture to a group of marketeers at a large insurer. They were given a practical assignment on how to get more information from their data. They came to the conclusion that, because they sell all kinds of insurances to individuals and companies, they have a lot of insight into the labor market. When, for example, the number of overworked people increases in an industry, something may be going on in that industry. Perhaps the number of jobs in that industry is decreasing. The marketeers then arrived at the conclusion that they actually had a better understanding of that industry than, for example, an employment agency such as Randstad. This offers possibilities for entirely different business models than those that are commonly found in insurance."

Sander Klous teaches in the master class Digital & Social Strategy of TIAS School for Business and Society.This masterclass is for professionals who recognize the importance of the use of social and digital media at a strategic level.In a social business, your digital strategy contributes to the profitability of the company that goes beyond the use of social media. 

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