Over the past couple of decades, I’ve been a real advocate of encouraging organizations to understand the potential value of their data. At times, it has been frustrating to try to convince organizations that data can be the difference between business success and business failure. More recently, though, the value of data has begun to be better understood and more effectively utilized. If we look back 20 years ago, we were producers of data. For example, we used data for taking and processing orders. And, we produced copious amounts of transaction data. Companies spent a great deal of time inputting data, but very few resources were allocated to doing anything constructive with that data. As a result, the data largely sat unused after a transaction was completed. Data was a necessary part of doing business, but was not being utilized to its full potential.
As technologies and products began to emerge that could facilitate faster data entry, more and more organizations began to view data as a key piece of the business that could be leveraged to improve operations—through sales or cost-reduction or inventory management. But they still lacked the tools to see the data as more than fields in a database. It was as if the data that drove and supported their companies was stored inside a glass case—untouchable and out of reach.
Today, all companies have data. It is an integral part of day-to-day operations. Yet few companies treat data as a strategic asset. It reminds me ...

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