Business press is going crazy about big data. But so are many companies that are sitting on it. Lauren Silva Laughlin recommends investors to buy big data companies in Fortune. She refers to McKinsey figures that 15 out of 17 US sectors have more "data" than the Library of Congress, and retailer that "understands its information" can push operating margins up by 60%. The big data companies are in the business of helping others to make sense of the "data" and to "understand information". The technologies and services they are marketing are one part of a possible solution, but there is much more in that.
Martin Harrysson, Estelle Métayer, and Hugo Sarrazin write in McKinsey Quarterly about weak signals (that is not exactly a very new concept, you can check what Elina Hiltunen, Paul J.H. Schoemaker and George S. Day and H. Igor Ansoff has written about them at the library nearby with subscription to the papers) and detecting them in the current overflow of information. They propose several principles companies can follow to find and use weak signals. The most significant one comes last. The insights need to be put into practice. Or, more correctly the practice needs to be put into that kind of a new world the weak signals are signalling about. The big data and all the wonderful signals hidden in the data become assets first when you are capable of changing your company to harness them.