NINETY PERCENT OF the data in the world has been created in the past two years. Eighty percent of that data is unstructured in form. Data offers a business opportunity, assuming that an organization can tap into that resource and put it to productive use. This requires an organization to identify quality sources of data and learn how to refine that data for the specific needs of the company. In that way, the process for finding and refining oil can teach us a lot about how to exploit the new natural resource in enterprises: data.

Manufacturing oil is a multistage process, requiring a variety of different tools and considerations at each step. Each step in the process is critical to the next step, otherwise the quality of the end product will be diminished or, worst case, unusable. The seven major steps are

  1. Exploration: Without finding oil sands, or another source of crude, and hence petroleum, the process can never begin. Petroleum is most often found in areas of porous rock. Once petroleum has been located, it’s prudent to do some test drilling to ensure that more drilling will be productive.
  2. Drilling: While exploration requires tools such as geospatial maps and visualizations, drilling requires a rotary drill and insertion of a pipe. Typically, petroleum will be thousands of feet deep into the rock. Accordingly, a drill must be able to penetrate deeply.
  3. Recovery: Pipes and valves are installed into the rock to ...

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