The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025 humanity will have produced 44 zettabytes of data. As in 21 zeros! It’s a mind boggling number that’s hard to comprehend.
For comparison, it was observed shortly after the turn of the millennium in 2002 that humans have only spoken five exabytes of words since the dawn of time. That’s 18 zeros.
Still hard to grasp? Imagine all the mosquitoes on earth. 110 trillion, with 12 zeros.
Suitably awed, the real question is not how much but rather what to do with it all. This data is obviously a powerful tool for business, helping to better understand consumers, execute operations, and forecast future trends. But the sheer volume of it, plus the wide variety of data quality and type, make it very difficult for most organizations to extract maximum value.
Consider a recent deep dive on Pennsylvania Health Department data by the Philadelphia Inquirer and its shortcomings relative to COVID-19 illnesses. While the Commonwealth is one of approximately twenty-four states that does report breakthrough infections among the vaccinated, an outdated network of data systems prevents it from collecting granular data in these instances like age, date of vaccination, which vaccine a person received, and whether they were immunocompromised.
This puts Pennsylvania at a significant disadvantage when forming policy and health responses to the virus relative to the many other states that do collect this data. Its inadequate data systems and strategies could literally be costing lives.
Contrast this to a successful data strategy employed by a Chariot Solutions client in the gaming industry. Ahead of the launch of its new mobile app, the company knew it wanted to leverage this new incoming data for its existing loyalty program to maximize engagement.
The team first identified what types of data would be available, mapped the most relevant for the program, and then built a technology system to capture and funnel all of this data appropriately. At launch, the result was a clear picture of user activity and dollars spent, providing the client with an actional dashboard of data reporting.
The video above delves into the successful data-driven strategy Chariot employed for their gaming client that added a billion dollars of valuation to the client’s business.
While the stakes may be less than in the case of COVID-19 health policy, the effectiveness is undeniable and the lesson clear: a well-designed data strategy is critical to success no matter the industry.
When designing a new data system or evaluating a current one, it’s important that leaders exhibit what we call the proper “data mindset.” This consists of three basic philosophies that will help ensure optimal performance:
- Educate: the universe of data approaches, technologies, and processes is constantly changing. Those tasked with devising or managing a data strategy must be equally vigilant about remaining informed on the latest information. This can feel like drinking from the proverbial fire hose, so focusing on the changes most relevant to your business is a good approach. Network with your peers facing similar issues, attend (virtually or in-person) events for your industry, observe how competitors are handling data, and keep tabs on analyst or vendor webinars.
- Invest: data tools and strategies require constant watering in terms of time and budget. Be ready and realistic with your willingness to spend on headcount, new technologies, and those ongoing education efforts. Many leaders new to the data game consider data a point-in-time expense when you upgrade infrastructure or add capabilities. But to be effective, data must be an ongoing budgeted effort.
- Revisit: the truth is that your data needs will evolve over time. Like any other technology, you will need to re-evaluate data systems relative to your business needs, regulatory factors, environmental or customer conditions, and the availability of new tools. Data teams should schedule regular re-examination intervals but also be open to always fine-tuning and tweaking strategies with these externalities in mind.
As the world collectively takes a deep breath and begins to close the books on another year, it’s a great time to plan for your own data strategy reset in 2022. Begin that work by first asking involved team members to embrace these three perspectives as part of your new data mindset.
Chariot Solutions has partnered with startups and Fortune 50 companies alike for over 19 years to turn ideas into lean software solutions. Learn more about our work with data engineering, or contact us to talk about a project.