When the London Stock Exchange puts its name to something, you can be sure it means money. For anybody who has been doubting the potential value of big data, therefore, the recent LSE report, “1,000 companies to inspire Britain”, should provide all the evidence needed to become a believer.
LSE has identified a large group of small to medium-sized enterprises which are among the fastest-growing businesses in the UK in this report. Most of them are atypical - funky start-ups from digital to brewing via innovative manufacturers to data-oriented creative agencies. Even Iron Maiden get a nod (more of that later). Critically, these are companies that would normally fly under the financial radar. To find them, LSE commissioned a big data business, Growth Intelligence, to identify where growth is happening using information sources that sit outside of the established, accepted framework.
As readers of DataIQ’s Autumn 2013 issue will already know, the research company uses billions of real-time data footprints, including email traffic, events, financial transactions, internet-connected PCs, export data, and even the daily road traffic of millions of businesses. By analysing big data sets in this way, it offers clients live insight into potential prospects for their products. Or, in this case, it identified the real drivers of the economic recovery which were not being spotted from slower-moving “official” sources.
It would be hard to think of a better validation of big data as a new way of identifying potential that could not be found through other means. With the authority that LSE brings to bear, this survey confirms that big data is transforming business from top to bottom. Analysts and investors will undoubtedly see this as a tipping point when competitive advantage was confirmed as residing in unstructured, hidden points of data for those who care to look.
Further confirmation was given to this view by another big data business, Musicmetric, which used its own information sources to show that Iron Maiden LLP - one of the 1,000 inspiring companies - has turned music industry wisdom on its head.
According to the LSE report, the heavy metal band is one of six music companies that are outperforming their sector. The band’s holding company had a turnover in the year 2011/12 of around £11.5 million. Significantly, this is before it launched the “Maiden England” tour in June 2012 which to date has grossed over £42 million and does not conclude until July 2014.
Musicmetric, which aggregates all music-related information on the web, applied its own big data and analytics to reveal one of the reasons for Iron Maiden’s dramatic growth. During the tour, it has built an online fan base of over 5 million, six times the number it had during its previous tour.
Notably, popularity has surged in South America, with Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia and Chile among the top 10 countries with the most Iron Maiden Twitter followers. In a twist which should serve notice to the music industry that its current anti-piracy stance is running against prevailing consumer behaviour, Brazil has the largest number of peer-to-peer music file sharers, ahead of the US and UK. Yet the band’s concert in São Paolo grossed £1.58 million - the second highest take on the whole tour.
That proves a new truth about music - that the money is now at the gate, rather then in the product. As Greg Mead, CEO and co-founder of Musicmetric, said: “Iron Maiden’s Bit Torrent data suggests Brazil is a huge driver of fans - and given Brazil is one of the biggest file sharing nations on the planet, this is a strong indicator of popularity. With their constant touring, this report suggests Maiden have been rather successful in turning free file-sharing into fee-paying fans. This is clear proof that taking a global approach to live touring can pay off and having the data to track where your fan bases lie will become evermore vital.”
Still doubt that big data offers entirely new routes to value, regardless of what your business does? Tell it to Xavier Rolet, CEO of London Stock Exchange Group, or to Iron Maiden’s vocalist Bruce Dickinson. If he can hear you above the screams of adoring fans, that is.