A Data-Driven World

Every day, people and businesses rely on data to function. And as the accessibility of data increases, data is becoming even more important in our world. Harnessing that data and using it strategically becomes even more valuable. Consequently, start-ups and businesses across the globe are developing software to collect, store, manage, and analyze data for various strategic purposes – whether that is for decision-making, solving problems, creating new products, planning marketing strategies, or fueling innovation. Read on to hear how local companies are on the cutting edge of this data-driven world. Hear how they are harnessing data and what they predict data will drive in the future.



Jeff McGehee Senior Data Scientist & IoT Practice Lead, Very chattanooga businessman


Jeff McGehee

Senior Data Scientist & IoT Practice Lead,

For all businesses, the key performance indicator (KPI) is king. KPIs have been around for a long time and are typically easy to track. However, it can be difficult to determine what changes may be influencing the KPI. Revenue may have risen 10% last quarter, but was it due to your new marketing push or new sales incentive structure? Or did the market as a whole rise 10%? It could even be due to fluctuations that you don’t yet know about. Collecting organizational and market data allows a data scientist or statistician to perform proper statistical tests to determine if there are correlations (and how strong they are) between certain actions taken and relevant KPIs. Our company operates in the IoT (Internet of Things) space, so we help enable clients to collect new data streams that could be valuable for their company to improve their KPIs.

I think we will continue to see companies in all industries grow their scope of data collection in order to hyper-optimize their KPIs. As datasets expand, algorithms and data pipelines which can automatically derive correlations – or more interestingly, suggest optimal actions – will become more prevalent.



Ken McElrath Founder & CEO, Skuid chattanooga businessman

Ken McElrath

Founder & CEO,

We believe a future is coming where businesses won’t be subservient to the constraints of rigid systems. Instead, people will leverage data to reveal rich stories, unlocking the power of making informed, data-driven decisions. To know the best path from home to the airport, we don’t need a map of every highway in the U.S.A., just the single best route option right now. With most business technologies, delivering this kind of personalized, localized, meaningful experience of data can be a daunting challenge. Releasing the potential of business data will require personalized apps with the right fit, function, and form to guide interactions and to make complex decisions extremely simple and obvious. In the past, it has simply not been economically viable to code a unique app for the unique needs and experiences required by each customer, supplier, or employee. But tools are changing fast. Organizations will soon adopt agile low- and no-code tools, like Skuid, to create, mix, and share data in deeply meaningful ways, creating user-centric application experiences at scale.



Dr. Hemant Jain Professor of Data Analytics & W. Max Finley Chair in Business, Free Enterprise and Capitalism, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga bussinessman

Dr. Hemant Jain

Professor of Data Analytics & W. Max Finley Chair in Business, Free Enterprise and Capitalism,
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The availability of high-quality real-time geolocation, status, and other relevant information will change many businesses and industries. The major areas of growth include new ways to provide services, share and effectively use resources, and reduce the impact on the environment. For example, the availability of geolocation and status of people and large machinery allow a company to track downtime and time used on expensive equipment, and then schedule resources more efficiently. This kind of data also improves quality of service. A great example is the transmission of information in real time concerning patients arriving to an emergency room, so appropriate resources can be made available on patient arrival.

At UTC, we have started a new Master of Science program in data analytics. This joint program between the Gary W. Rollins College of Business and the College of Engineering and Computer Science focuses on application of advanced data mining techniques to predict events important to the organization and suggest optimal actions. The graduates of this innovative program will bridge gaps between accomplished business executives and the technological expertise that can help organizations derive value from data. 



Corey Ranslem CEO, International Maritime Security Associates chattanooga businessman

Corey Ranslem

International Maritime Security Associates

IMSA is disrupting the maritime industry by taking data from hundreds of thousands of sources around the world and making that data useful to our clients. Accurate information and better access to data (in real time!) help ships improve their operations, decrease costs, and reduce their overall operational risk. We’re also looking at how to use the platform beyond risk management in connecting smart ships, smart containers, and smart ports to better integrate the global supply chain. IMSA has just started an 18-month project with the SimCenter at UTC, funded by Oak Ridge National Labs, specifically looking at our big data-related issues and how we can better collect and analyze this data and then present it to our clients.

The maritime industry is in its infancy when it comes to big data, but the future is exciting as satellite communication technology and bandwidth improves. Eventually vessels of all types will be sharing different types of data through a trusted maritime cloud or data network. These changes will continue to reduce costs and improve the overall global supply chain.



Brian Trautschold Co-founder & COO, Ambition chattanooga businessman

Brian Trautschold

Co-founder & COO,

The wealth of data that companies can access and utilize is causing an upheaval in both business and the economy as a whole. We’ve never had as much recordable information about what is happening around us, or as much detail into the interactions between people, businesses, and their associated activities as we do today. The reality is that for most companies, the wealth of information is actually an endless sea, and they are drowning in that data – and craving context to make actionable decisions from it.

At Ambition, we provide organizations with a sales coaching and culture platform that maximizes the talent and potential of every team member. Our platform transforms the activities that salespeople do every day — and the goals and objectives they strive to achieve — into usable intelligence and real behavior change. Sales and marketing tools will continue to be augmented by machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence), but truly world-class companies will use that augmentation to create incredible buying experiences that differentiate themselves from simple, ‘smart’ competitors. Simply put, the best companies will leverage data to remain customer-centric, people-first organizations.


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