Is data really the "New Oil"?

Data is most useful when it’s used to support a decision. In a data driven world, there is more data and information available at our fingertips (quite literally). This has created huge opportunities but also a great deal of complexity and challenges as to what to do with the data. Much data available on the internet isn’t verified which creates a greater need for vigilance and caution when using data.

Data Driven Decisions

Data becomes valuable when it’s part of a decision or action. There’s a distinction between ‘interesting’ and ‘useful’. No doubt it’s interesting to most of us that around 1.4 million people visit Movie World on the Gold Coast each year, but is it useful to us? Probably not. It’s just interesting. However, if I’m a Manager at Movie World it’s likely that this data is used to plan infrastructure. They’ll put the data to use to assist decision making.

The Value of Data

Large mining equipment have hundreds of sensors on all parts of the machine collecting all types of data from oil temperature and pressure to vibrations and engine emissions. This data is available in real time and is also stored for analysis. Unless the data is analysed to look for changes or trends away from normal conditions, the data is useless. It only becomes valuable when the data is turned into information that can support a decision for action that arrests the change in condition.

What Next?

Like oil has changed the way humans operate, living in a data driven world will continue to change us as both individuals and as a society. The abundance and ease of access to information allows us to make more informed decisions, but it also means that our actions and behaviours are more easily tracked and analysed. This can lead to a greater emphasis on data-driven decision making. Additionally, the use of data in areas such as sales and talent can change innate behaviours like we have never seen before. It is important for us to consider the ethical implications of living in a data driven world and to strive for fairness and accountability in the use of data.