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  • Writer's pictureMark

Data: The Digital Backbone of Our Economy

You may have heard that "Data is the new oil." First coined by Clive Humby of Dunnhumby, it elegantly captured the transition from oil-based to knowledge-driven economies. But let's be clear: while catchy, the analogy is a bit off the mark. Data, in many ways, outshines oil and is better compared to our economic infrastructure.

Data Extracted Like Oil
Data Extracted Like Oil

Data vs. Oil: A Quick Tussle

So where does the analogy fall down, let’s explore:

Abundance Over Scarcity: Data is everywhere, and it's multiplying. According to the World Economic Forum, if 25% of San Francisco's cars were self-driving, they'd churn out data equaling the digital footprint of 300 million internet users annually. Tesla alone gathers data from a million miles of driving every day! Rather than a finite scarce resource we live in a world of data abundance.

Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse: Oil gets used up, but data? It can be repurposed, combined, and analysed repeatedly without diminishing its value.

Economic Dynamo: Data's economic muscle is compelling. Take Norway: Menon Economics project that by 2030, its data economy might double the value created from its oil exports and Norway is one of the world’s largest exporters of oil!

So, data isn't the new oil. It's a unique asset, offering exclusive routes to value creation. And in this digital age, it's clear that mastering data will be a game-changer.

Why the Right Comparison Matters

A Dashboard Detailing Lots of Data
The Abundance Of Data

Linking data to oil might give the impression that data is a straightforward resource, stored and leveraged without much consideration. But unlike oil's one-way flow, data flies around organisations, informing decisions and creating value at every level. Its value doesn’t merely come from extracting and hoarding it, it's about quality analysis and utilisation. Yet shockingly, only 10% of all data is formatted for easy scrutiny and sharing.

And the OECD points out a jaw-dropping rise in data volume, which surged eight-fold from 2010 to 2015. By 2025, the International Data Corporation (IDC) projects the global need for data will skyrocket to 163 zettabytes (163 x 10^12 GB) given tech trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and AI applications and so both the opportunities and the challenges are only set to increase.

Data as Infrastructure

If we think of our digital world as a bustling city, data is its roads, bridges, and underground lines. It supports decision-making and fuels growth. But, like any city's infrastructure, it demands care. It needs effective collection, storage, and processing, balanced with privacy protections and room for innovation.

Remember, it's not just about vast amounts of data; it's about high-quality, timely data. Here's where savvy data analysis shines, extracting priceless insights for businesses.

In wrapping up, while oil might be dwindling, our data wells are nowhere close to drying up. Data isn't the new oil; it's the digital bedrock of our future economy. It's the tool to shape the digital future. So, the next time someone drops the "data is the new oil" line, challenge them with the real story. As innovation pushes forward, data's role only grows more vital. It’s the heart of our digital future.


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