Data is the New Oil

August 18, 2017

A friend who runs a social media platform related to food proclaimed on Facebook, yesterday, ‘Data is the new oil!’ People get on his platform and talk about what they like and don’t like and where they eat, lakhs of conversations that essentially boil down to little bits of data which get analyzed to reveal what people want to eat, hate to eat and refuse to pay for; a veritable gold mine of information, or rather an oil mine, which is what an investor in his company apparently told him. Something he was quite happy to share with us on Facebook because nothing today is worth anything until a few thousand people know about it. We digress. The point I was trying to make was the biggest trend of 2017 is going to be the monetization of this data, the bits of conversation you and I have to entertain ourselves when we really should be working. This post should have been written yesterday if it were not for my heated debate about which city serves the best butter chicken. This information will then be monetized and sold to a restaurant company to help them decide on whether to serve or open another butter chicken restaurant in Mumbai. See how this works?

bannerthumbnailForbes reckons the Data Analytics industry will soon surpass $200 billion by 2020 led by revenue growth from information-based products. Data monetization” will become a major source of revenues, as the world will create 180 zettabytes of data (or 180 trillion gigabytes) in 2025, up from less than 10 zettabytes in 2015, according to IDC. It’s all well and good to have access to 100,000 conversations, but breaking them down into bits of bytes that create value is another challenge altogether. But monetizing it won’t be so easy because while firms focus on creating data, they are yet to actually create data driven cultures and technology is not the impediment. The issues lie in getting management buy –in, the refusal of organizations to align them to a culture where data creation is important. I mean, data input was the punishment that was given to an intern for god sakes, now we have to revere it?

But let’s say you do manage to get your act together, your next step is to understand the numerous competing technologies and languages. 2016 saw rapid growth in cloud data analytics, which has companies confused – cloud or premises analytics solutions. With cloud, no matter what anyone says about security, laymen like me always wonder about security. Laymen equal fast-growing CEOs who weren’t born speaking SAS. When someone says cloud, I imagine my discussion about those chips I had last evening floating in the sky somewhere, waiting for someone to pick it up and then post it on twitter with my picture/ handle next to it under the heading – Tuesday’s Glutton.

And who’s going to oversee all this data inputting? Why Mr. Chief Data Officer of-course, who comes with a nifty readymade acronym, CDO. The CDOs who will lead the organization by creating a culture conducive to the creation and storing of data. In my opinion, the roles of CDOs and CRO’ (Chief Risk Officers) will eventually merge because what is data other than the study of past historical data to predict the future, to protect against risk of losing revenue, losing clients and ensuring compliance. We talk about risk here because the Banking industry is expected to lead the investment in Data Analytics hiring and software in 2017.Ofcourse they are. They don’t want to find themselves caught on the back foot, again, do they?

What does all this mean for you? How does it affect your career? This entire recording and storing is nice enough but who’s going to help use the information? We need both Data Scientists who can analyse the data and Data Translators, domain experts with deep knowledge of the business to translate the analysis to people like you and me who want things explained to us like we are five-year-olds. Anyone who can do both is literally sitting on a large gold mine. No wonder they tell you that data analytics is the sexiest job of the 21st century.

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