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Last week, we published the first article of two based on one of our key takeaways from this year’s Rise of IoT & Big Data in Rail conference in Munich.

The first article addressed the digitalization of organizations and the necessity to focus less on the technical. Instead, we need to focus more on the people who will become affected by the digitalization. If you have not yet read the article, you can find it here.

This article will address the importance of investing in data – even though the business case might not be visible from day 1.

It takes time to find the right recipe

In many industries, data is viewed to be invaluable when shaping an industry ready for the inevitable digital future. Several of our fellow attendees even said that they consider data to be the new oil. However, many people in the rail industry still seem to be hesitant in welcoming this point of view. This could become a big challenge in the future.

Previously, we have addressed the reluctance to change internal processes when digitizing an organization. In general, people do not welcome change. Therefore, changes in internal processes are often quite difficult to get implemented in the beginning. Especially if you belong to a large-scale organization. Understandably so, many large-scale organizations cannot seem to manage the massive workload an organizational transformation as this size requires. But they need to get started. Simply put, data is for the rail industry what oil is for an oil rig.

The medical industry does not hesitate to invest money on retrieving data, although they may not know yet what to use it for. What they do know, however, is that data is valuable and will be worth a fortune in the future. Data can provide you with an invaluable insight into all ends of your assets. But it takes time and a good dose of experiments before you find the right recipe for exactly your organization.

Qualify your data

One of the speakers at the conference addressed that the industry needs to invest in data gathering. However, the question on many of our fellow attendees’ minds was: how do we ensure that the data we gather is high quality? During the two-day conference, this question was visited quite a few times. On day two, we seemed to get a little closer to an answer.

Many organizations expect their in-house operators to become specialists in analyzing data. Instead, they should ally themselves with specialists. Data gathering specialists can efficiently analyze incoming data. They also know exactly what to look for in order to qualify the data. This way the organizations can ensure that the data they receive is worth the time and money invested in it.

Invest now or regret it later

From what we can gather from attending the Rise of IoT and Big Data in Rail conference, whether you are a supplier, an infrastructure owner or anything in between, we all face similar challenges. Of course, it varies in scale, but nonetheless, the challenges seem to be very alike.

Even though the business case might not crystal clear from the beginning, it is important to acknowledge that data is valuable. It has proven to be invaluable for other industries such as the pharma industry and the car industry, and the same goes for the railway industry.

You must invest in order to receive the profit, and you need to do it now. It takes years and you cannot make up for lost time later – once you have derailed, it is lost.

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