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Is data the new Oil?

Decision-making in organizations is increasingly fundamental in charting the strategy and competitive advantage of an entity in the long term and the short term. It is acknowledged, however, that such decision-making would only be impactful in an organization in cases where the decision are based on actionable data that is relevant to the organization and the market, accurate, as well as generated promptly. This underlines the increasing importance of data in the growth, development, and competitiveness of an organization. Unfortunately, data in the digital age has become the new oil, where it has evolved into an immensely unexploited and valuable asset. Indeed, entities that perceive and recognize the fundamental value of data, as well as strive to use and extract the same are bound to reap huge rewards. 

First, data infrastructure is increasingly evolving into a profit center rather than a cost center. Of course, it is still acknowledged that the data infrastructure for a wide range of entities is still in its nascent stage, in which case immense financial resources have had to be incorporated to safeguard the utility and appropriateness of the data. Nevertheless, the profit-making capabilities of such data infrastructure cannot be gainsaid as the data thus obtained and used will allow for the persistent enhancement of the efficiency and functionality of organizations, with decisions being made in a more timely manner and being more accurate or precise. This allows for the constant improvement of operations in the long term and the short term, thereby enhancing profitability. In essence, entities have to strive to treat data as enterprise-wide corporate assets and manage data locally within the business assets. 

On the same note, organizations have to persistently perfect the collection of data from their customers. The collection of millions of customers’ data assisted the companies such as Amazon and Facebook to learn the best way to sell commodities online. This allows companies to create a customer-acquisition strategy where marketing activities would be created and designed in a manner that would be most effective in reaching the target audience. 

Even more fundamental is the importance of predictive intelligence, which assists business entities and governments to track the locations of particular groups of people and interpret the collected data. This would also allow for the analysis of patterns regarding the movement of consumers around cities, thereby informing the establishment or creation of facilities such as supermarkets, malls, and recreation centers. This data would include information such as the shopping trends of individuals, incomes, demographics, education levels, as well as population levels in a particular region, an element that enhances the precision of marketing. The basic implication is that organizations would have the capacity to customize their marketing to the distinctive customers’ needs, likes, and preferences. 

Perhaps one of the areas that particularly need accurate and timely data is healthcare. Research published by the Harvard Medical School underlined the importance of data in reducing the potential for medical errors. Scholars noted that the combination of pathologists’ discoveries with the scans about machine learning systems enhanced the accuracy of health decisions in healthcare to 99.5%. This means that the mistakes have been reduced to just 5 per a thousand, with statistics indicating that this accounts for approximately 56,000 fewer misread breast scans every year within the United States alone. Of particular note is the fact that this required immense amounts of data from which the machine learning models are trained to enhance the accuracy of their decisions and precision. 

Nevertheless, the increase in data usage necessitates that organizations also invest heavily in cyber security. Indeed, there has been a proliferation of entities that are a threat to the integrity of data. As much as data in itself may be important to an organization or a government, such data would only be usable and provide a competitive advantage to an organization in cases where it is relevant, accurate, and available when needed. More often than not, cybercriminals aim at stealing data from organizations or making it unavailable and unusable. This is often accomplished through the exploitation of the weaknesses of an organization’s cyber-security platforms and structures. In this case, organizations must persistently ensure that they incorporate data protection infrastructure including anti-malware software, data encryption, as well as backup. On the same note, organizations must ensure that their data protection structures and software are persistently updated to safeguard the efficiency in the protection of data. Indeed, cybercriminals are always coming up with new ways of attacking the weaknesses of organization data systems. Anti-malware creators persistently enhance the functionality of their software to safeguard their efficiency in meeting emerging changes and threats. In essence, regular updating of the anti-malware software is necessary to safeguard the capacity of the software to eliminate threats and combat the malware in the long term and the short term. 

Author: Roja Boina

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