When the Industrial Revolution changed the face of US commerce in the early 19th century, it was because innovators figured out how to turn coal and iron into steam engines and railroads. Today, data is the raw material poised to transform business, and many innovative companies are already using it to their advantage.
In Henry Ford’s day, consumers knew exactly where their cars came from. Ford made everything under one roof, processing steel and splitting lumber for wheel spokes at the massive River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan. But that level of manufacturing purity hasn’t been the case for a long time.