Innovation Beyond Scale: Why More Data, Even the Unusual, Matters

Data does not equal innovation

For most of its customers, BaseN is the platform of choice for collecting vast amounts of crucial data, ranging from production processes to full predictive maintenance, e.g. how the products perform at the end customers. More advanced customers run entirly new digital product lines on top of BaseN Platform. The trend is clearly towards increasing the amount of data, which, from BaseN’s perspective, is naturally good news.

As we’re talking about spimes and digital twins, one could easily think that all known processes and systems could be simulated with digital models. A practical, straightforward engineer would thus easily conclude that the product (or world) is ready, and there’s no need to direct more resources to gain more insights. Only efficiency and economy of scale matters. Sometimes I even hear arguments that Artificial Intelligence will soon do all the innovation work, no slow humans required.

But why does the above sound eerily familiar from the 1980s? Yes, it was the Soviet Union and communism. The party had a master model or production and society, which spanned all the way to the individual. Everything was supposed to be under control, and the economy of scale would handle the rest. Adaptability slowly ground to halt, and the whole structure collapsed.

But the scientist, who has always lived inside me, begs to differ. Our understanding of the world, let alone the universe or human consciousness, is constantly evolving. Therefore, instead of running an organization (or product) with exact data of the current state of affairs, it is of utmost importance to catch and analyze all the data that seems residual or unnecessary at the moment. This is most likely the realm ensuring that innovation continues also when the next generation is at the helm.

To quote one of my physics idols, Richard Feynman, “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics” – I believe that what comes to hyperconnectivity and the data deluge of today, business leaders should humbly apply his advice and always maintain the capability to address the shock of the unknown, by surrounding themselves also with data that does not make sense just yet. Even in the business world, it is the speed of adaptation and fitness (Darwin) which make the difference on the long term.

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