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Data-driven innovation: switching the perspective on Big Data

Daniel Trabucchi (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Tommaso Buganza (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 5 September 2018

Issue publication date: 4 January 2019




The pervasive spread of digital technologies brought an incredible boost in data availability. Companies are dealing with massive amount of data that wait to be exploited. At the same time, scholars are providing different strategies and methods to help companies capture the value embedded in their data to foster innovation and improve the efficiency of existing processes. In these research studies, data are the by-product of something else, and they are a silent asset that needs to be exploited. What if data might be considered the final goal? The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The research is based on an exploratory multiple case study analysis, on the basis of three cases used as an illustration for new ideas. In particular, the gathered data are analyzed according to models previously presented in the literature review, building on and expanding them.


The research proposes a data-driven approach to innovation, offering a peculiar view of the innovation process. The trigger point is the need of data that let begin the entire development process of a complex system. In this perspective, the application that data are a by-product of the entire innovation process and not the primary output is peculiar since the vast majority of the literature consider data as the by-product of the primary product.

Research limitations/implications

Future research is needed to assess the replicability of the model outside the mobile app industry and to measure its performances. Nevertheless, this paper provides insights both for scholars and managers, enlarging the discussion on digital innovation and digital business models.

Practical implications

The results provide a development process to foster innovation relying on the need of data as the trigger point, guiding entrepreneurs and managers in the building process of the entire digital system.


Previous research studies often considered Big Data (BD) in innovation as a way to enlarge the current product offer or to make the innovation process more effective or efficient; this paper changes the perspective by considering BD as the trigger and the enabler of the entire digital innovation process.



Trabucchi, D. and Buganza, T. (2019), "Data-driven innovation: switching the perspective on Big Data", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 23-40.



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