Are the data of a company really the oil of the 21st century? | Innovation

Are the data of a company really the oil of the 21st century? | Innovation


The data that companies and organizations store of our transactions and relations with customers and third parties have or will have such an important value that they make them comparable to gold, oil or any resource necessary and appreciated by society. We have all heard or read sentences of this style and it is easy to say such affirmations, which sound so resounding and apparently seem so technically based, to assume that they are totally true.

However, before starting to treasure information in our companies, in order to create and increase this supposed and important asset, it is interesting to stop and think a little about what these types of expressions have in reality.

Without wanting to be too theoretical, it is good to reflect on the data as a valuable resource economically speaking. A good has value depending on its usefulness and, above all, on its level of scarcity. In economics, by definition, all goods are scarce, but some, such as oil and gold, much more than others, because it is perfectly known the limitation of their reserves and, therefore, their scarcity.

But the data is not scarce. Rather the complete opposite. The volume generated in recent months is likely to be the same as that generated in recent years and, this exponential trend, as a consequence of the increase in digital density, will continue to recur in the future without any forecast of change.

The data itself is worthless

The data is not a scarce resource but it is that, in addition, in themselves they are not worth anything. And I want to underline the words "in themselves" because it is totally true that we have great examples of companies that, thanks to their capacities to use data, are managing to generate value continuously. But mainly they owe it to their ability to use, analyze and interpret the data and not the data itself.

Undoubtedly, if we have that skill we can obtain information performance. So that ability is the true scarce and valuable asset that every company must possess.

In this sense, what really are the capacities that we must have to transform the data of our company into value?

In the first place, it is essential to know how to distinguish useful data from useless data. It is true that the cost of storing data is increasingly low. However, the cost of time spent processing and analyzing this data is and will be increasing. Although a useful piece of information today may cease to be so in the future, and vice versa, being able to discern one from the other in each moment is something that not all companies are capable of doing.

Likewise, the speed with which we act since data is generated until our company reacts is now more critical than ever. All the tools, processes and business rules that allow us high online response capabilities based on data are necessary to increase the value of that information.

As our company grows in size and complexity it is more difficult to access any data guaranteeing its uniqueness and veracity. In fact, there are many managers who have the feeling that the more data there is in their company, the less information they have. The variety of applications, databases, data transformation processes, etc … makes it extremely complex to use the right data in the right place. Although there are tools that help us solve this problem, this ability is really achieved when we have the organization aware that the data has a corporate use and, therefore, rules must be followed both in its generation and its use.

The professionals who work with the data are the last of the capacities to be taken into account. Intuition will always remain important, but it must be more and more protected by the data. This is one of the key skills and, perhaps, as all those that involve people, the most difficult to achieve. We are not talking only about having data scientists, but about employees with analytical skills and knowledgeable about the business who constantly demand quality data for their work.

These four capacities support each other and, to a greater or lesser extent, must be developed together. Therefore, it is important to reflect on which are the ones that our organization has less developed and act on them.

Only in this way will we achieve the necessary skills to manage the data optimally and convert them, in addition to a scarce resource, into a value equal to or higher than that of gold or oil.

Pedro Herrera Nachón is a founding partner and CEO of NovaQuality

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