Data, Analytics & AI

Innovation is the ‘last mile skill’

How some of the world's top companies are innovating their businesses using big data.

QA’s Practice Director for Data and AI David Pool regards innovation as the ‘last mile skill’. On the long journey of collecting, preparing, visualising, exploring, and communicating your data, it’s only in that last mile where innovation enters the room and spurs impactful action.

Innovation makes the difference between being ‘set up’ for success, and actually standing apart from your competitors by making big changes… informed by big data.

Data is the new oil

Data is raw information. Hidden within it is the power to tap into what your customers really want and need.

As David put it ‘The most valuable companies in the world understand data’.

Before data was used effectively, the most profitable companies in the world were in manufacturing, banking, even selling tobacco and petrol. Times have changed, and the largest market caps are now owned by the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Amazon; fundamentally data driven companies.

So, exactly how are companies turning data into success? David discussed these key examples:

Saudi Aramco

As David put it, Aramco are ‘as much a data company as they are an oil company’. With 18,000 sources of data, 3 million real-time sensor measurements and the world’s fastest super computers, Aramco can ‘manage every drop of oil from a single room.’

In fact, this robust data programme saves them 264,000 barrels in energy per day, reduces water usage by 40% and has generated $125 million in revenue.


Tesla currently facilitate 800 miles of fully automated driving around the world every minute.

Every Tesla has its own IP address, and every buyer signs an agreement for the company to use that driving data. This empowers Tesla to accurately predict where they need to invest next.

‘One of the main uses of that data is to look at where the cars are being driven’, David explained. Data is helping Tesla solve their customer’s next biggest pain point: range anxiety. With insight, they can ensure that wherever Tesla drivers are going, they’ll find a place to recharge.

The result? Tesla are the number one car company in the UK.

Camelot - National lottery

Winning the lottery is a game of chance, but getting people to play in the first place is far more strategic.

Lottery provider Camelot harnessed player-behaviour data by moving players online, increasing this proportion from 15% in 2011 to over 50% as of 2023.

This allowed them to discern and demonstrate that the lottery jackpot was the biggest variable driving every other metric. In short, the bigger the pot, the more people play.

So, they started to publicise large jackpot wins, and saw an eight-fold increase in players.

This is how Camelot knew the best way to boost revenue for good causes and the treasury would be to make games harder and ticket prices higher. This data-driven decision increased revenue from six to eight billion.


David was involved in creating the first online car configurator for Audi’s website. At the time, the motoring press were unconvinced, remarking ‘this is crazy; no one is going to buy a car off a website.’

They were right; but that wasn’t the point.

Audi wanted the data. It showed that the cars viewed in London were very different from those viewed in Manchester. Audi were then able to make sure that when a Londoner or a Mancunian turns up at their local showroom hoping to check out a certain Audi, the models they are most interested in would be there in the flesh!

How can you harness the power of data innovation?

You might not be in Big Oil or luxury automobiles, but you too can harness the impact of data insight. Data is the currency and language of every organisation; you just need the right talent to unlock it.

While organisations need to innovate more than ever, the reality is they cannot keep up due to an immense and growing skills gap. The time to upskill and reskill is now. Here’s why:

  • Government data shows that nearly half of companies are affected by a lack of technical skills.
  • The proportion of UK businesses who report shortages in areas such as AI, programming, software engineering and user experience are consistently over 50% according to
  • Globally, the percentage of the workforce who require upskilling sits at 54%, according to WEF.
  • While many fear a reduction in jobs due to advances in AI tech, the net figure between jobs displaced and jobs created yields an increase of 58 million jobs.
  • With QA’s portfolio of digital skills courses and apprenticeships, your business, employees and recruits can access affordable and futureproof skills to thrive in the world of data.

Ready to discover your first step to BIG data innovation? Find out more about our Data training solutions or Get in touch below. 


*This page was updated on 8th January 2024.

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