The power of data

The power of data

Joel Albyn, product and innovation director at cap hpi, which delivers data for the automotive industry, looks at how important data could be for new businesses.

The world is undergoing an explosion of data - and while entrepreneurs have adapted to big data and the Internet of Things, it can sometimes seem bewildering how best to take advantage of these advances in technology.

At home in Yorkshire, cap hpi has thrived for more than 30 years and adapted to the increasing volumes of data and advances in the complexity of the industry. Initially used vehicle information was delivered in a printed ‘Black Book’, today they are served in real-time by apps, APIs and the web, which means businesses can receive decision support data and software solutions spanning vehicle valuation, validation, collision, mechanical repair, and total cost of ownership.

As we grow we hope that our investment will unlock opportunities for technology entrepreneurs in the region, because Leeds has a rich digital talent pool and the local universities and colleges also provide great access to the next generation of skills and thinking.

Anyone thinking of growing a digitally focused business should get involved with the local tech and data communities. It is an important part of building a support network. I also see huge value in partnering more closely with the universities, which will help to retain talent in the city and ensure that graduates have the appropriate skills.

In a recent study, Leeds outperformed Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh as a base for growing businesses. It found that central Leeds has 81 fast-growing firms with a combined turnover of £2.3bn. The findings are contained in a report into business scale-ups, which was compiled by research firm Duedil.

A scale-up is classed as a company which has achieved three years of 20% growth in revenues or staff.  According to the report, London & Westminster came top in the survey. It is home to 638 scale-ups that bring in £544 bn of combined revenues. Cambridge is the second biggest cluster with 86 fast-growing firms, and Leeds is third.

There is a growing digital community in Yorkshire, and Leeds in particular, which has a buzz about it following a raft of high profile, and value acquisitions. This is supported by a mature finance and professional services community that gives entrepreneurs the support they need to grow in the UK and overseas.

The market provides a sizeable opportunity for any business with European ambitions. The manufacturing sector in the European Union accounts for two million enterprises, 33 million jobs and 60% of productivity growth.

The new industrial revolution driven by data opens up new horizons for industry to become more adventurous and to develop innovative products and services. Recent studies estimate that digitisation of products and services can add more than c110 billion of annual revenue in Europe in the next five years.

Back in Yorkshire, Leeds remained our business base as we joined forces with vehicle provenance experts, HPI, to become cap hpi. The city is now the global hub of a business that works with manufacturers, finance companies, retailers and technology innovators around the world.

I believe that the availability of data and technology has simultaneously lowered the bar to market entry and enabled companies to grow rapidly. Servers can be hosted in the cloud and scaled quickly to provide a global reach, at a fraction of the cost of only a couple of years ago. Now growing a business has never been easier.

At cap hpi, we work with a wide range of digitally enabled businesses that use our data to drive their products and unlock their businesses in a way that was impossible only a few years ago.

We have now built a European data-set to support our growth plans and will underpin services with a new global coding system which will enable businesses in the automotive sector to take a unified view of global trends.

We believe data is the new fuel for the motor industry and a single global code will help the industry drive innovation and growth throughout the vehicle lifecycle. Data-led businesses will be able to scale internationally in a fraction of the time and with much less cost.

The new code is numeric-based and will provide a future-proofed platform that enables a wide range of technology-based solutions. It will allow far greater levels of detail and accuracy when describing a model, chassis and powertrain.

We have put technology at the centre of all data activities, from collection and processing, through to delivery and the development of new applications, launching our international business at this year’s Paris Motorshow and sponsoring the first Innovation Forum, which brought together start-ups, technology companies and motor manufacturers to look at how the industry will be shaped in the coming decade.

We want to work with companies across automotive manufacturing, retailing, finance, insurance and fleet sectors to use the code to develop applications that help them work more efficiently and profitably.

As the cost of entering a market comes down, it means that the best ideas from entrepreneurs can thrive. From my role at Walmart in California, where I led global product development in e-commerce, to my innovation-focused job at cap hpi, I see the businesses that thrive are the ones who build an ecosystem around them. Often this can be with competitors in the same space, because sharing data is mutually beneficial and the true engine of growth.

Employing over 300 people in the city, Leeds is the springboard for cap hpi’s global operations, proof that Yorkshire is the perfect home for high-tech businesses. Whatever the requirements, new and growing companies recognise a key factor here – the game-changing availability of data and digital skills in the city and surrounding region.