We talk a lot about data.
Always in the news. Security warnings, privacy discussions, and seemingly constant conversations about big data, storage, and networking.
Data is useful. Some data is very important. We know that. But let’s talk about whether you need all that data, what data will help you grow your business, and how to think about living in a world that will have 10 or 100 times the data we collect today.
Data has always been with us. It is literally in our DNA.
Leaving the history and philosophy for another time. We can start with computers in the mid-20th century.
For decades we collected data where managers had to decide the value of data based on whether they could afford to store and handle it. Memory was expensive, and labor costs to encode, transfer, backup, and find data had to be included.
Now most of that is gone. Storage is cheap, collection is easy.
We no longer have to think about the cost of collecting data. Every click goes on a log. We even know where someone was standing when they decided to buy.
The value of data is no longer a physical problem.
Now it is up to us to figure out where the gold is in a vast data mine.
We need to unlearn what we “knew” about data now that most data is collected automatically. If you have any problem handling where it should be, or how to share it with others, there are experts like Frontier Business that can solve them. We can spend our time on the vital decisions that will allow us to use that data.
Let’s look at the real power of this.
The simplest example is email. We used to spend time deleting emails that we had processed. Today, you can archive email after reading and still have every email you ever sent or received available, searchable in a few seconds.
The time savings of retrieving email and having that data at your fingertips is well known. What is less discussed is the multiplier effect of eliminating the friction of collecting, sorting, and storing the emails. It allows us to do other things, like thinking about our job.
The small example of email is the tip of the iceberg. You have data such as your accounting system that can model customer behaviors, process data that can be used to model where friction lies in your manufacturing or production, and employee tracking data that can show you where inefficiencies lie in your systems.
Not too long ago offices were filled with pools of people processing data. Forms and letters were typed on paper and stored in file cabinets. We cut costs by introducing personal computers, but greater power comes from using all that data that is now instantly available. At first, managers used this computing to produce more paper forms faster. Now we know that the data itself, stored in cloud databases, is a treasure of value.
What data? How about ALL OF IT!
In the past decade, tools, and processes have been developed to mine data and show managers trends and opportunities. The tools take time to learn, and experts have set up shop to help or do it for you.
Or just hook it up to AI and let the data speak for itself.
We all have heard about Watson, the computer that won at “Jeopardy!.” More recently, AI has powered automatic cars, beat the best players of Go, and found better ways to treat cancer patients.
And now you can connect a spreadsheet of data with some of these powerful systems. There are inexpensive self-service portals, advertising enhancements for your marketing data from Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and hundreds of companies creating decentralized blockchain solutions for everything from banking to tracking the apple in your dinner salad (food safety).
It is impossible to talk about data and AI without mentioning privacy and control concerns. There are experts working hard on those problems, too. The bad guys will be trying to meet their goals with this technology, and it is smart to stay ahead of them.
You don’t stay ahead by stopping in your tracks.
With the amount of data doubling in a year and smart machines learning many times faster than any human, the clear action is to get out on in front of the cutting edge and start running.