The true value of business data

Some say that data is the new Oil, and I guess if we look at the value of data rather than the sustainability and availability of data then there may be some truth in this. But not everyone does see the value of data, some will see it as nothing more than a costly problem rather than as a valuable resource.

It’s estimated that enterprise data is going to grow at 10% per month or 650% over 5 years and that over 10 billion devices will be connected to the internet creating data by 2015. Amazingly globally every 2 Days we create as much Information as we did between the dawn of civilisation and 2003, and every minute of every day 24hours worth of video is uploaded to YouTube.

Perhaps what’s even more amazing is that 43% of businesses do nothing with this growing resource other than run reports on how their business performed last week/month/year. The problem is only going to get worse with over 15 petabytes of new information being created every day. For those who use social media the “share” and “RT” buttons encourage us to share posts, links, videos, images and documents creating copies of copies of copies – just like the Gemino spell in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.

So if 43% of companies do nothing with data what about the 57% that do? Reports suggest that these companies are 4.5 times more likely to outperform their lower performing counterparts and the evidence is clear to those that look into it. The biggest employer in Europe, The NHS, used BI to track the spread of Flu during the National Flu Pandemic creating over 1.5 billion records in a 16 week period. Tesco’s, Coca Cola, oil companies and McDonalds all use Business Intelligence tools to gain a clearer insight into the data within their business and use that data to make informed and timely business decisions that distinguish them from the competition. Whilst the argument for using the ever increasing amounts of data for our competitive advantage doesn’t come across to much resistance the subject of data quality is beginning to generate more airtime and momentum.

Many companies just don’t have the time, resource or knowledge to look at the quality of their data and who can blame them, it’s a highly competitive space we are in, budgets are stripped of fat, head counts are slimmed down to the core and it’s all hands on deck for the primary function of the business. Interestingly the smallest amount of bad data can have sizable ramifications to the business, its customers, reputation and bottom line. Thomas C. Redman explains in his book “Data Driven” that if your data is 100% accurate and one customer order requires a dozen pieces of data then the cost is £1.00. 100 orders the cost is £100.

One Hundred orders each requiring 12 pieces of data means 1,200 pieces of data are needed. An error rate of 1 percent means there are 12 errors. Chances are high that 11 or 12 of the 100 orders will be affected. If 88 good orders costs £1 (totalling £88) then 12 bad orders will cost £10 (totalling £120) and doubling the cost of sale.

Business Intelligence solutions easily identify these areas of weakness providing companies with the opportunity to reduce their bad data and exposure, all that’s left then is to address the access rights of this data.

Perhaps instead of data being the new oil we should refer to it as being the new gold, increasingly valuable and readily available to the masses.

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