We’ve heard “data is the new oil” so often it seems like it’s time to move on to “XXXX is the new data.” But the statement is more valid than ever. And, unlike black gold, virtually everyone has data in their backyard, just waiting to be mined. Below are four great examples of companies and nonprofits that are identifying interesting data and packaging it in ways that help them generate more traffic, sell more products and improve customer outcomes.

#1: Google—“Is your portrait in a museum?”

You’ve probably seen this one in your Facebook or Twitter feed since the beginning of the year. Google has an Arts & Culture app (iOS and Android) with great information on local museums, a treasure trove of artwork to explore, and other arts-related content. In a recent update they added a feature that lets users take a selfie and then see which portrait in Google’s vast repository of museum images is the best match. Apparently, I most closely resemble a somewhat nefarious figure called “The carlist conspirator,” painted by Valeriano Becquer in 1856.

Key to the feature’s success is the Share button. My timeline has been flooded with people showing their matches. Further, the Arts & Culture app, which launched in 2016, was the #1 free app for several weeks after the update launched. Assuming that Google’s goal was to grow traffic to their app and generate a ton of free, positive, publicity, I think you can say mission accomplished.

#2 Home Depot—Built-in pins Pinterest board

In another direction altogether, Home Depot and ad agency 22squared introduced the retailer’s first platform-centric campaign made specifically for Pinterest. They launched a number of Promoted Video Pins that let users explore rooms, look for design inspiration and, yeah, click-through to purchase items in those rooms. Home Depot did a great job using decoration data and content and placing it on a platform that values that data above all others. They are even moving the concept into the physical world, with “step inside the pin” options at select stores. No sales data has been released but it seems likely that Home Depot is generating both direct sales and an influx of store traffic from these innovative data and content pins.

Equality Charter School —“Big-Data” alerts on student performance

I am on the board of the Equality Charter School (ECS) in Bronx, NY. At our last board meeting we learned about an innovative approach to data analysis that this independent public charter school is conducting to help them identify students who are performing below their capabilities. ECS has created a database that allows teachers and administrators look at the performance of students on a number of state and internal tests over the course of a year, or multiple years, and flag students whose performance may have declined over time. This sort of change from one year to another is easy to miss, especially if the student has different teachers or has moved from middle school to high school. By pooling and analyzing the data they have, and making it more accessible for the teachers and administrators that need it, ECS is improving outcomes for their students and making sure that they get help before it is too late.

#4 Spotify—Personalized playlists

I have been a loyal Spotify subscriber for years and am continually impressed with how they use my listening preferences, and those of others, to make recommendations and curate my new music experience. Here are 4 recent examples that they have given me:

  • Your Top Songs 2017A simple playlist of what I have been listening to in the last year.
  • Your Time CapsuleSpotify knows that I am somewhat trapped in the ‘80s and built a playlist of what I might like from that time period
  • Release RadarNew releases from artists I like
  • Discover WeeklyMusic from different artists that is similar to music I listen to, to expand my horizons

All of these personalized playlists, plus the ability to download at higher high quality onto my phone, are what keep me a happy customer despite the many other music alternatives.

I hope that you enjoyed these four examples of data being mined to improve business performance. Please let me know of great examples in your organizations!