Exponential Growth: Finding and Filling Data Gaps
Written by Brian Bell, VP Product and Revenue
Even in a world where we may feel overwhelmed by the overabundance of data, there remain critical data gaps. Those gaps are opportunities to expand human knowledge, increase economic activity, and improve living standards. Let’s first recognize that data don’t drive these benefits; people do. Like oil, gas, and minerals, data are resources in an extraction economy. They are raw materials acquired, processed, and delivered as part of an input to a value chain. The factors of production and what commodity is derived create their commercial value. Undoubtedly data are a key component of the value chain but to suggest data drives anything is like espousing that the grape drives the wine industry. The complexity and expertise required to commercially transform that grape into a glass of wine you enjoy in your favorite place are orchestrated by people and organizations. The same is true for data. The data that make your life easier and more efficient is prepared in a unique process and packaged for your consumption, crafted by people, which turns data into a usable and valuable commodity.
The advancement of digitalization has witnessed a plethora of devices that generate an explosive amount of data. Unlike the perishable fruit in an orchard, our new “digital orchards” of devices and infrastructure are producing automated, uninterrupted, perpetual data flows with a diversity of applications, some of which have yet to be discovered. Your mobile phone is the epitome of such a device. The world has so much data, but most go unused. GSMA Intelligence estimated that on October 6, 2014, for the first time, there were more connected devices in the world than people. Referenced as cyberspace inflation, or the “Edgeless Fog” by Francis McInerny, there is a vast world of connected devices producing data, now measured in exabytes, that create a space that is relatively untouched in an application and potential monetization. This space continues to expand at a rapid rate where many opportunities will emerge. Since October 6, 2014, the world as we knew it radically changed.
The significance of this space was not imaginable when the technology era began. The introduction of the personal computer (mid 1970s) created value through software applications—the commercial value of sharable data came much later (early 1990s). Data was the side dish of the software application. Then, by design or plain luck, entrepreneurs began launching businesses based on their thesis on how to exploit data. The data platforms that now boast some of the highest market capitalizations of all companies started with the intent to collect and monetize data, not to build the hardware to create the data. Companies with physical assets like telecoms now see their infrastructure and devices as data monetization touch points. The emergence of a globally connected network changed the business landscape and introduced new opportunities. Early entrants to the digital marketplace grew through the power of network effects, a theory known as Metcalfe’s law. In a digital society, data are the most valuable of all raw materials. The side dishes are now devices and applications.
Despite what seems like a deluge of data, some gaps can lead to inaccurate or misleading information. Finding and filling the gaps enhance our understanding and comprehension. Comprehension is what happens after data. Filling data gaps provide the greatest opportunity for exponential business growth when coupled with a high-performing data platform that creates a notable return on investment and value.
How do you find and fill the data gaps that can lead to a cyberspace commodity primed for significant growth? The answer is to start by questioning the world around us and unraveling the problems that people and organizations have (or soon will have) that need to be solved, then piece together the missing data elements that today inhibit solving the problem. Delivering the solution that transforms missing data into meaningful information and relevant insight for the customer is how to monetize them.
Brian Bell is an expert in creating and transforming data into commercial assets that solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. With decades of experience in the Weather, Climate, and Water Enterprise, he focuses on filling data gaps and innovating solutions to advance mobility by reducing weather uncertainty. Weather uncertainty is bad for business, and that’s a problem worth solving.