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If you google the term ‘Data is the new oil’, you’re presented with almost 600 million results. I wanted to explore why this is such a popular and well quoted term. Firstly, drawing on my own experience as a CIO having worked for large multinational organisations there were some quick comparisons to make.
Data is essential for the typical organisation today. Data is everywhere. This is often the result of mergers and acquisitions, numerous ERP systems and other applications all producing reserves of data. These data reserves will double every year for the foreseeable future.
The Oilfield – Understanding the Value of Data
Oil, which I will now refer to as data, is all over the organisation. This is often the result of mergers and acquisitions, numerous ERP systems and other applications all producing reserves of data. The comparison to oil is fitting: data can be difficult to find, buried in disparate source systems and difficult to extract. When useful data is discovered, it will often be ‘dirty’ and in need of refinement to be of use and of true value.
What struck me when thinking about the comparisons between oil and data are relevant because making the best use of data is critical to an organisation’s chances of success, much like oil has been critical to development in the 20th Century.
However, the energy sector, like everything is changing. Electric and hydrogen cars are on the increase, as is renewable energy with technology such as Solar, Biomass etc. In other words, data is no longer only coming from the traditional oilfields.
The Internet of things (IoT) and sensors means that almost everything we use as domestic consumers and in business will be connected to the internet sending data to cloud-based systems, providing data reserves on a different scale.
A Data Perspective
At Data Clarity, we have a core principle that we apply wherever we can: keep it simple. It may sound cliched, but this mantra should be the core of every business that handles data. Many companies try to add new systems, and new databases to tackle emerging challenges, without any consideration of existing data and the challenges that having so many different systems presents.Often, something that starts simple spins out to inefficient levels because of a lack of data perspective. Before they know it, many organisations have 10 databases across 10 key business systems, with teams and departments working in silos with only a fraction of the data they should be able to access.Without a data strategy, implementing new technologies, such as AI, VR and Machine Learning, across a business is a waste of resources. Without accurate, relevant and complete data records, your departments cannot focus on a specific and tailored target audience or identify the key opportunities necessary for driving profit and remaining competitive.A unified data strategy, focused on merging, consolidating and validating data from across every business system, should be the first step for every business that is looking to adapt to new technologies because data disparity kills organisations.
Final Thoughts from Dave
The first step to becoming a data-driven organisation is to develop a comprehensive digital and data strategy that outlines where your data is held, and to build the data lakes that will allow company-wide insights. As CIOs we need to think about where the new data is coming from and how our approach needs to change to refine and use the data from the traditional and emerging sources.
Across sectors and industries, the way we collect data is changing and the way we can use data is changing as well.
The CIO is critical at this stage in driving awareness about the importance of data, not just for IT, but for the whole company, to ensure future-proof strategies to increase customer engagement for effective interactions.
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