Information as Levers for Value
In order to do justice to the essential significance that accessing information will play in the future competition of AI-supported companies, it is worth adopting the radical perspective according to which the value of a future company shall result:
1. from the breadth and quality of infomation available to it,
2. its capability to monetize this information, and
3. the unique selling point that emerges from this available information plus its ability to monetize it.
From this perspective, traditional material production assets derive their value from the fact that they monetize information - such as the vehicle fleet, with which information is monetized when a particular customer wishes to reach a specific location. In this perspective, "big data" analyses are not so much a means of optimising the efficiency of given production assets, but first and foremost establish one's own production as the best way to monetise the information inventory in the company.
Certainly, this perspective makes major simplifications. However, it makes sense to adopt this approach in order to explore how the strategic handling of information can serve to boost enterprise value.
This becomes most apparent when observing the evaluations of news aggregators and marketplaces, which instead of focusing on their own production, concentrate on information processing.
Case in point: Toutiao
The very popular app of a subsidiary of ByteDance in China offers completely individualized news pages based on AI algorithms. Toutiao tracks the user behavior of each individual user down to the smallest detail and after that, compiles a customized selection of information from third-party sources. Despite all the criticism of the app as a multiplier of "fake news" and Chinese government opinions, the valuation of ByteDance during the final funding round amounted to approximately $75 billion and was therefore at the same level as Uber (roughly half of the valuation is based on Toutiao and half on the video app TikTok). For comparison: Toutiao's Western counterpart, the news aggregator "Buzzfeed," which tends to operate according to a more traditional pattern, was valued at roughly $1.5 billion.
Case in point: The Climate Corporation
Originally established with the idea to provide insurance against weather-related revenue losses, The Climate Corporation has rapidly evolved into a data platform for agriculture. For each field, information about the weather, soil conditions, plant health, and historical yields is aggregated and - using scientific insights - seed and fertilizer recommendations are generated. Serving as data sources alongside meteorological parameters are comprehensive test series, satellite images, and user measurements. In 2013, seven years after its founding, The Climate Corporation was acquired by Monsanto for a valuation of $1.1 billion.
The conventional platform economy examples (Amazon, AirBnB, Uber, etc.) can also be mentioned here. However, this should not imply that the strategic value of information depends upon highly scalable B2B2C marketplaces for its development.