The ever-faster information flows in the world of ceramics | by Andrea Serri
Are we heading towards a world in which ceramic manufacturing will find itself at the centre of a data cloud? If we look closely at what is happening today, this would indeed appear to be the case, prompting a radical change in the way we do business. Data analysts are widely employed in the ceramic industry. We find them in large companies that supply technologies to Industry 4.0 standards and are hiring personnel – and in some cases setting up entire company departments – for data collection, management and analysis. Increasingly attentive to the economic and other benefits of data management, the ceramic tile producers are likewise employing people in these roles. These operations, which in computing terms we can refer to as SQL, have the goal of acquiring and optimising the use of company data.
Another equally important series of operations are external to the producers themselves and involve observing Italian ceramic market trends through the behaviour of players such as retailers, architects, end consumers and e-commerce websites. By creating databases that draw from sources such as the world of social media, it is possible to obtain information on purchasing methods, preferences and sources of inspiration. We can refer to these operations as non-SQL because they involve information content that is not expressed in figures but is based on images, text posts and other non-numerical variables. Understanding the preferences of a US consumer by observing her Pinterest board or exploring a project gallery to determine the propensity of a French architect to design residential buildings are extraordinarily important ways of interpreting and anticipating the market.
A new scenario is emerging. The old information that previously accompanied products, such as leaflets inserted in boxes of tiles, are being replaced by the world of big data. These data will help develop higher performance materials and products right from the design stage, thereby providing a more effective solution to customers’ needs. Amid these ever-faster information flows, the next ceramic revolution is just around the corner….