The Next Data Revolution: Integrated into Products?

Loraine Lawson

Let’s see. I’ve talked about data, data integration, semantic data, metadata, data mining, big data, small data, data modeling, product data, customer data, master data, data quality, data governance and even data from the Internet of Things. You’d think I’d have the data-bases (ahem) covered, right?

I sure did.

Then along comes Harvard Business Review, with its data expert Thomas C. Redman, Ph.D., and what does Mr. Smarty Pants do? He adds a new one: integrating data into products.


It’s called "informationalization." The premise is deceptively simple: “Make existing products and services more valuable to your customers by building in more data and information,” he writes. Instead of just using data, even product companies will turn into producers of data.

This is one that’s best explained by example. He cites adding GPS to cars. You might also count apps for smartphones. These seem boring, though, compared to one of his examples: Coors beer cans turn the mountains blue when the temperature is cold enough for the “perfect” beer. Shipping containers, with all their collected data, are another.

Redman sees it as the next step in the data revolution. He admits he doesn’t know of any studies on the concept, but he sees it as “the confluence of two age-old needs,” the first being the drive to improve everything, the second being our need to have more relevant, on-the-spot, integrated data.

“Every company must have an informationalization strategy,” Redman writes. “In a relative sense, it is easier than big data, appears quite profitable, and may be a competitive necessity.”

It certainly could redefine the concept of "data-as-a-service."

Who knows? Maybe in five years, all this data management work will pay off in unexpected places and on unexpected things.

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