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What To Do When Machines Do Everything by Ben Pring, Paul Roehrig, Malcolm Frank

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5Your New Raw MaterialsData Is Better than Oil

Each industrial revolution was catalyzed by a new raw material: coal, steel, oil, electricity. This time around, data is the primary raw material.

In this revolution, the organizations that are winning know precisely how Engine T17BBI is performing during Flight V26 from New York to London. They know how a potential 0.5% interest rate increase in New Zealand will impact a California state government–issued zero-coupon bond before lunchtime. They know how a kid is performing in today's lesson on differential calculus. How do they know? Because they have the data.

Like oil, data needs to be “mined,” “refined,” and “distributed.” But unlike oil, data is a multifaceted, curious commodity. It is a potentially infinite resource—opaque, ephemeral, at times intangible. It can grow quickly in scale and value, but it can also be worthless, even a burden, if it's not viewed through the right lens and managed in the right way. Today's leaders need to understand how to take this commodity, which is available to each and every one of us, and turn it into a competitive advantage. After all, harnessing the new machines without abundant data is akin to owning a fleet of tractor-trailer trucks without any access to gas.

The data we are talking about is currently under your nose, capable of being mined from your own daily business operations. For example, per our reference to Flight V26, a typical Airbus A350 has approximately 6,000 sensors across ...

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