Recently, one of my siblings asked me why everyone is talking about Data and why their organisation is running several projects that have Data “in their name”.
My first thoughts were that if he isn't clear on why Data is a priority for the organisation then they had yet to establish a Data Culture, or the Data Strategy is not delivering results.
Whichever industry you work in and whatever your field of interest - everyone will have come across a story about how Data is changing the face of our world. It might be for helping to cure a disease, increase a company’s sales, make devices smarter (e.g., Alexa, Google Maps) or tailoring the ads and recommendations that pop up when we’re online (e.g., Amazon, Netflix, Spotify).
It is Data that makes all of these things possible, but it must be “good” Data to work properly.
This means that the Data needs to be accurate, reliable, and current – imagine what would happen if Google Maps was updated only once a day instead of in real-time, we’d have no idea of what roadworks or traffic lies ahead of us. Even when we have current Data, reliability is key to avoiding these situations
Data is simply another word for information. In technology and business, it often refers to information that is machine-readable as opposed to human-readable.
Machine-readable Data is information that computer programs can process, traditionally needed to be structured in a specific format. These days, unstructured Data such as emails, images, video, and audio can also be interpreted by machines – providing the basis for machine learning (ML), which drives automation and artificial intelligence (AI).
ML is based on the concept that systems can learn from data, identify patterns, and make decisions with minimal human intervention.
The Big Deal!
You may (like my sibling) still be thinking “so what? machine learning and AI isn’t much use in the workplace.” In fact, the opposite is true – our work environment is where Data can provide the biggest impact. Let’s look at some simple use cases:
What are the Limits?
When it comes to the potential of Data in business, the only practical limitations are the availability and usability of relevant Data, as well as your own imagination.
It's also worth keeping in mind that regulations regarding the use of personal Data are applicable, including GDPR and CCPA. The management and protection of business Data should be a priority for your organisation, especially when it relates to personal or sensitive information. According to research from DLA Piper, between January 26, 2020, and January 27, 2021:
There are opportunity costs associated with having low-quality business Data but there are also significant penalties for breaching regulations when it comes to the misuse of Data.
Data is like any asset, if it is lost or treated badly - the value is affected, and significant costs can be incurred.
In the digital economy that exists today, Data is an increasingly valuable asset that grows in value through use. For those who see the fundamental value and understand how to extract and use it properly, the rewards come quickly.
Joe Keating, Chief Data Officer, Glantus