How data analytics can improve or reinvent your business

Tomorrow is Today

Data analytics, or the smart use of large amounts of data for an insight into customers, finances or traffic jams, offers many opportunities for companies. And this is not only about 'Big Data'.

Published in De Standaard on 23 March 2015

In successful companies everyone should embrace data analysis.

Jo Coutuer, Partner at Deloitte

“When we talk about data it often concerns the Internet and Google. However, a lot can be gained through better use of traditional data, such as budgets and sales data,” says Jo Coutuer, Partner at Deloitte: “We’ve kind of lost sight of these.” This data has been kept for years, because it is so useful for a company. “What is different now,” says Coutuer, “is that companies and governments can do more with this data.”

More data, more computing power

“There are two evolutions,” says Jo Coutuer: “There is more data, but the computing power at our disposal has also increased exponentially.” The combination means that techniques and algorithms, which have been around for years and had to be applied on big computers in the cellar of a company, can now be calculated on your laptop in a matter of seconds.

This has consequences for the entire company, says Coutuer: “It means data analysis is no longer a peripheral phenomena. Analytics is not only carried out by the study department or the IT department, but has a place at the heart of an organisation.” If companies make full use of this, they can work more efficiently, or even develop new business models.

Data analysis is no longer a peripheral phenomena, but has a place at the heart of an organisation.

Data analysis in the car

However, not every business is there yet. “In quite a few companies the processing of business data is still very old-school: manual clocking in, preparing presentations by sending e-mails around, etc.” says Jo Coutuer. “There are plenty of opportunities to use these techniques in traditional business management.”

Data analytics, for instance, can make things a lot easier. “A satnav that analyses traffic jams and suggests an alternative route, optimises my trip to my holiday destination,” says Coutuer. He believes that this is also possible in companies. “In successful companies everyone should embrace data analysis. The HR employee for a better idea of what is going on with the staff, the accountant to keep an eye on the finances at all times, instead of once a year at the final settlement.”

Helicopter view of the crisis

Because data analysis makes information easier to interpret, an organisation such as DG ECHO, the Directorate-General of the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office, uses it to make instant decisions. The organisation provides humanitarian aid and emergency aid during crises such as wars or earthquakes and the right, rapid reaction saves lives.

“We have tonnes of information about our humanitarian aid efforts, but analysing and drawing conclusions was a massive undertaking until recently,” says Jean-Pierre Buisseret, the head of the finance department at DG ECHO: “Now we have a helicopter view of everything we do,” says Buisseret. This leaves more time and energy to help people.


This is the kind of optimisation Fost Plus also deployed for better recycling. Fost Plus, the organisation behind the Groene Punt logo on your packet of coffee or chocolate spread, gathers information about all the different packaging launched by its members in Belgium. It also finds out how it is picked up, sorted and recycled. This big flow of information is analysed using modern techniques.

It has made Fost Plus a real role model in Europe. “Belgium does much better than other countries in terms of recycling packaging,” says Kurt Tierens, CFO and CIO at Fost Plus: “We consistently achieve our objectives and do that at quite a low cost. Without us people would pay more taxes on their waste.”

Call centre

Data can be used not only to work faster and better, some companies use it to reinvent themselves. Teleticket Service, for instance, uses data to improve its services vis-à-vis customers.

“When we started, we had a call centre,” says Stefan Esselens, CEO of Tele Ticket Service, “and we used to sit around the table with the operators to hear how customers reacted to a new show, how they felt about the prices, etc.” Now that tickets are chiefly bought online, the company has, in part, redefined itself as a data collector. The performances and venues for which Tele Ticket Service works know instantly how ticket sales are going and whether it makes sense to plan extra shows. The organisation uses customer behaviour and social media, among others, for this. “In part we lost that personal contact with the customer in the call centre,” says Esselens: “But we know more about him or her than ever before.”

De Standaard (23/3)

Data-analyse verbetert of transformeert bedrijven

Google of Amazon zijn dan wel bezig met data analytics, het is veel meer dan ‘big data’. Door je eigen bedrijfsgegevens slim in te zetten, kan jouw onderneming zichzelf stroomlijnen, of helemaal heruitvinden.

Published: 23 March 2015
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