A recent trip to my gym got me thinking about how many times I use data to inform my daily decisions. The gym I go to has become pretty popular across the country, mostly because it’s extremely effective, and yes you’ve probably heard of it – Orangetheory Fitness. The concept is that they use wearable monitors to get your heart rate in the ideal zone for the most effective workout. This idea is nothing new but one of the reasons Orangetheory Fitness gyms have been popping up all over the country is that they are one of the first to put these data points to work, to apply the data effectively to achieve a goal. And, they’ve been able to do this at scale.                                     

It’s an attractive model and I was wondering about other data sources that are similarly successful in achieving outcomes. One that comes to mind is the crowd-sourced traffic app, Waze. As you drive, the app takes note of your speed and drivers can add comments about accidents and back-ups. Waze gathers the million points of data flowing into their systems and reports it back to users in real-time so they can make informed decisions about their driving route. Like Orangetheory Fitness, it’s so popular because it works and it draws useful connections for consumers that help them achieve their goals – whether it’s being more physically fit or avoiding an accident.

These are just two examples that have cropped up in the last two to three years, and now more than ever we are constantly surrounded by data points that can help us achieve desired outcomes. We can wake up to a biometric alarm clock that collects data about our sleep patterns over time to wake us up at the optimal moment so we get the most restful sleep. We strap on our wearable fitness trackers to count our steps throughout the day in order to stay fit.  Perhaps we check our financial investment information on a device that tells us the best time to buy or sell based on historical trading patterns. We check the weather app which collects data points that can predict the chance of rain or snow so we know how to dress for the day, and the list goes on.

The internet gave rise to the “connected economy” and I think the next evolution we are experiencing now is the “data-driven economy.” What new data points will be collected and analyzed in the coming years? What new and creative ways will emerge to use those data points effectively and for a greater purpose? Just like having the best fiber optic cables and fastest Wi-Fi connection has been critical to the rapid growth of the connected economy, having a solid, interoperable IT architecture in place will be the next great enabler in the data-driven economy.