The foundation of innovation is data

16th July 2015 Posted by

When people are talking about innovation they often imagine the straining inventor, fanatically working towards that ‘light bulb  moment.’ Many of my best ideas feel like they have appeared seemingly out of nowhere, that is, until I review the journey towards the revelation.

Data analysis drives innovation. Once I stop and think, it is apparent that the facts and figures that are churning through my mind both intrigue and inspire me.

At SUEZ environnement, we use clear phases to focus our efforts around research, development and commercialisation. Innovation is by no means the end of the journey, but neither is it the beginning. It is often quoted that one “cannot manage what they cannot measure,” and in the same vein, it is impossible to innovate when the problem or opportunity that needs to be addressed isn’t visible.

Investing in R&D to get new data and knowledge is an increasingly important component of our solution minded business. In fact, all along the process, from before ‘eureka’ moment to after the launch of product or service, good quality data is the foundation. However, for the idea delivered from ‘it works’ to a more commercial ‘it works well’, it can take some significant effort, which is obviously expected. This phase of making the innovation robust and repeatable leads to what we call commercialisation.

We recently participated in a webinar with Travis Perkins on logistics and back haul and how the two companies are delivering savings in waste and waste logistics by working together. The key element of identifying and unlocking those opportunities is data.

We used the early contract audits together with data created through waste mapping and accurate bin weighing to understand what was happening on a day-to-day basis. We were able to prioritise and identify opportunity, which led us to not only to delivery of the new solutions, but also to inclusion of metrics we needed to measure our performance and show success. To put it simply, knowing how much material is produced in each bin at each location allows the application of informed logistics. Without it, the opportunity for financial and environmental cost reduction would not have been such a keen focus.

Valuing quality data, sharing skills in its analysis and the application of the knowledge gained, as well as working in partnership with customers can deliver substantial improvements that would not be achievable otherwise.  Without data you may wait a long time for that ‘light bulb moment’.


Follow this link to webinar recording

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