Businesses Are Increasingly Turning To External Data To React To A Changing World

Forbes
October 18, 2022
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Originally posted on Forbes: Here

The last two years have seen a complete sea change in the business environment. A global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, massive increases in inflation and a shift to hawkish monetary policy by the Federal Reserve and its peers have left companies struggling to make decisions about how to run many aspects of their operations. The nimblest businesses have adapted by becoming more data driven. Rather than relying on gut feelings and anecdotal observations, companies have begun to buy data to provide answers, and lots of it.

Becoming data enabled is a big shift in corporate thinking that requires the right partners to drive acceleration. Nomad Data was a company born of the pandemic to do exactly that: help companies become data driven. Today I’ll be speaking with Brad Schneider, the Founder and CEO of Nomad Data. Throughout his 22-year career, Brad has focused on using external data to improve decision making and prediction. Previously Brad was the Founder and CEO of Adaptive Management, where he worked with dozens of corporations and investment firms helping with data best practices, infrastructure and sourcing.

Gary Drenik: What does Nomad Data do?

Brad Schneider: Nomad Data makes it simple for companies to easily integrate data into their decision making. Nomad Data’s platform allows business users to type in specific questions they have about a market, a customer journey, a competitor or something else of interest and be connected to data vendors who can supply the data to meet their requirements.

An example search might be something like “We are looking for data on the change in supply chain delays for industrial equipment” or “We are trying to size the market for electric vehicle batteries in Europe and need to see the volume of vehicle registrations by month and country over the past 5 years”

The biggest categories of use cases we see are around understanding the size of a market, identifying businesses who fit a certain potential customer profile or to track sales of a particular product or company.

The magic behind the platform is that business users don’t need to be data experts. They just describe their needs in plain language. Nomad’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms look at their search and then rank our 1,600 data suppliers by likelihood of having the data in question. The top suppliers log into the platform to review and respond to the request. Searchers then receive the responses and decide who to connect with.

For larger companies we also have tools to track all interactions with external data vendors, manage the legal aspects of data onboarding and provide tools to catalog all the firms’ past searches for attribution and knowledge management.

Drenik: When did you start seeing a change in the reliance on data?

Schneider: This change has been happening slowly over the past decade. In the months following the onset of the pandemic we saw a step change in interest. All of a sudden companies felt blind. They knew their businesses inside and out, understood their supply chains and had their arms around the macro-economic environment. Overnight this changed. Since then, companies have been looking for more ways to use data to regain their lost visibility. In the process they are also learning to unlock new ways to drive their business using this new asset.

Drenik: How did this data drive behavioral changes for companies?

Schneider: As companies have started to use our platform and realized that in most cases data does exist to solve their visibility needs, they have become hungrier and hungrier for data. They are also learning how to change their decision-making mindset from gut driven to one that is more rooted in measurable, auditable data.

Decision makers used to be asked what they think. Now they are also asked what they know and can observe.

Drenik: What other economic impacts have you seen driving data demand?

Schneider: Inflation has been a big one. Every business is trying to understand what’s causing it, what impacts it is having on consumers’ appetite to spend and how long it will last. We’ve had people search for specific pricing data on thousands of product categories to understand where it’s higher or lower. They’re also trying to tie this back to end demand to see if large price changes destroy demand across all product categories or if there are certain categories which are particularly sensitive.

Drenik: What types of sources are people using to track inflation?

Schneider: Consumer survey data has been one of the best ways to track consumers’ view of inflation. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey you can see which areas consumers are feeling the inflation impact most. The data shows that Grocery and Gasoline are the two largest areas of consumer concern.

Prosper - Noticed Prices Increases in any of the Following

It also shows that consumers are in fact changing their behavior. The survey results show that consumers are waiting for sales, buying an increasing number of generic products and also spending more time doing price comparisons between online and offline retailers to ensure they’re saving where they can.

Prosper - Doing As A Result Of Price Increases

Drenik: What's your outlook on the need for data going forward?

Schneider: As market leaders continue adopting data it’s going to become a basic business requirement for everyone. Businesses that don’t leverage data will become increasingly disadvantaged compared to those that do. I’m extremely bullish on the accelerating wave of data adoption and excited about Nomad Data’s role in helping drive this trend.

Drenik: Has the post-COVID era fundamentally altered that view?

Schneider: The post-pandemic world hasn’t changed my view on overall adoption, but it has changed my view on the speed of that adoption. I had previously thought it could take another decade for most companies to feel pressure to fully embrace data-driven decision making. The pandemic changed that overnight and I now see the next 2-3 years being equivalent to a decade of pre-pandemic adoption.

Drenik: Thank you, Brad, for your insights around business adoption of data.

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