Introducing the Periodic Table of Data Elements

Data has become the world’s hottest commodity. But with more than 25 billion gigabytes produced per day, how do you know what types will help your company prosper? And what data can you monetize? After all, businesses use only a fraction of the available data. That means much of the value you can derive from data may be wasted.  

The experts at Think Data Group have devised a tool that can help you use data to optimize your business and earn more. We call it the Periodic Table of Data Elements. You can think of it as a framework for understanding the volume, variety and velocity of data. Like the famous table of elements, our periodic table organizes a vast, complex concept into a neat one-page chart. We are confident that ours is easier to understand than the one you studied in chemistry class (and ours has never appeared on a surprise quiz).   

Note: the table also helps businesses determine the types of data they may be able to sell, which we cover in other posts. Sign up here to get reminders. 

 Using the Periodic Table of Data Elements 

 Simply put, the Periodic Table of Data Elements arranges the data-sphere into three categories: data elements and categories (the blue boxes on the table below), use cases (green boxes), and vertical markets (yellow boxes). You can use the table if you: 

  • Want to purchase commercial third-party data 
  • Need data you can’t find 
  • Are interested in discussing a strategy to solve specific issues 
  • Want to build a data product or solution 
  • Are curious about monetizing (licensing) your own data 

To understand how the table works, imagine that you are the chief data officer of a quick service restaurant business. Your use cases include assessing risk, gaining competitive intelligence, and understanding the supply chain. Which data elements could help you?

Periodic Table of Data Elements

Let’s consider the supply chain use case in detail. You need to understand the status of all your ingredients. Consider the potatoes, for example, needed to make your fries. Using the Periodic Table of Elements, you can scan the “data elements and categories” section. You can take a moment to do this using the exhibit above, then check out our explanation below. (Don’t cheat!) 

Three elements immediately stand out as being helpful to understanding your supply chain: global trade, satellite imagery, and weather 

Periodic Table of Data Elements

You can correlate typical potato production with weather actuals, forecasts, and historic data from key growing regions. You can also view satellite imagery to compare the crop with good and bad years. This should give you a sense of whether the domestic season will be productive, or if you should find supply from elsewhere.  

In the event you need to tap alternative sources, you can check global trade data from, say, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Europe. This would tell you who is exporting potatoes and where they are exporting them to. Not only can you see sales, but from global trade manifests you can find out who is involved in the transactions.   

Next, you may need to figure out which potential suppliers to do business with. As the exhibit below shows, you may decide to use business firmographics to understand the companies involved—how big they are, how many employees they have, how long they’ve been in business, and whether they are stable. Appending credit data would provide insights into whether there’s a bankruptcy risk. Adding property-risk scores can alert you to location-based threats posed by hurricanes, floods, wildfires or wars, for instance. Finally, web-harvested data offers additional details on who each company is doing business with.  

Periodic Table of Data Elements

We could go on. And on. In fact, our next blog post covers how you can use the Periodic Table of Data Elements to get a better sense of who your customers are and how they interact with you.  

The power of data cannot be overestimated in today’s market, but most companies could use it better and more extensively. We offer the Periodic Table of Data Elements as a simple, elegant, but robust tool that can help. Please study it, and let us know if we can assist in solving your business challenges or monetizing your data.