The next gold rush has already begun! But don’t go looking for it in Bathurst, Ophir, Ballarat, Bendigo or California. It is already lurking around in every touch points of where your business interacts with the customer or prospect. This time around it is in the form of digital data waiting to be tapped and mined to reveal its value. Get ready for the data resource boom. It seems data is the digital fuel! Or could it be the crude oil to be refined? Some even think it is an investable financial growth asset. Take your pick!
Industry analyst Ovum contends that data is a strategic asset – the oil that will fuel the future growth of telecom service providers. Much of the discussion on data revolve around customers’ comfort (or discomfort) about telcos mining their personal data, related security and privacy concerns, and telcos’ moral obligations. Some operators use the analogy that customer data is a form of currency, and that operators are like banks where customers deposit their personal data. In this analogy, just as banks invest their customers’ money in various assets that they expect will yield a return, operators can share customer data (in accordance with customers’ stated permissions) in order to achieve a return.
If you are not convinced that data is digital fuel or financial growth asset then, how about crude oil? Grant Watts, Senior Vice President and managing director of Amobee, the company that has been acquired by SingTel, says, “Data is the new world's crude oil. Billion-dollar businesses can be built on it". He argues that Big Data is the way to compete and make money in the advertising market and the telcos have a number of assets in their favour, like their customer relationships, the amount of data they can capture, and real-time location information that they can leverage.
The notion of data as crude oil or digital fuel assumes a resource-driven paradigm where data is considered a corporate resource and is centrally managed. Corporate managers continually enhance and ‘ring-fence’ corporate data as part of the planning process with an expectation that it can be tapped at any time with the certainty of achieving a predictable value from it. So, the limits imposed on the organisation’s database are based upon the managers’ own perception of their value as information.
On the other hand, data as investable growth asset assumes a perception-driven paradigm where the individual front-of-the-house employees’ perception of the data widens because of their greater accessibility to the information across the enterprise. Hence, on the one hand, the value of information is limited by the boundaries drawn up by the managers, and on the other hand, expanded by the perceptions of the customer-facing employees having access to the enterprise network of data. So, information is the consequence of a complex psychological process that transforms perceived data into usable thought inputs by using the skills of employees for the benefit of improved communication and organisational performance.
It not the data per se, but the time and utility which transforms data into information that enables actionable decisions and hence value to the organisation.