If Data Is the New Oil, It Is Drilled and Refined in Lousy Ways


If Data Is the New Oil, It Is Drilled and Refined in Lousy Ways

Many visionaries and research organizations are presenting gloomy estimates about the volume of companies that will die out in the next ten years or so. To let you into a secret: companies have been steadily dying out before the digital disruption. Even Fortune 500 companies.

Fragile companies cannot handle the change and die out; robust companies try to hang in there while antifragile companies gain from the disorder and adapt into market leaders. Entrepreneurship is risky by nature, but this time, the speed of disruption seems to be increasing. This is because the New Oil – data – enables novel disruptive services and technologies that give an edge compared to the traditional IT solutions.

Fragile companies cannot handle the change and die out

The race has begun, and the old Henry Ford linear analogy of horses and automobiles can be replaced with any nonlinear example, say trains and airplanes.


Bad Quality Data Can Disrupt Good Companies
It amazes me how the estimates of the gloomy digital disruption never include the explanation why companies get disrupted. Let’s rule out the fragile companies who stick with their grand ol’ strategies, and concentrate on the good, robust companies trying to change how they do business. Why do they get disrupted and die out? They die out because their data – the New Oil – is not lubricating and fueling their business models; because this new oil is not drilled and refined properly!

They die out because their data – the New Oil – is not lubricating and fueling their business models.

The future success of companies will be about the ability to execute multiple parallel strategies instead of having one big strategy that would constantly be changed. Companies pursuing this agility need to be capable of running parallel business models and switching dynamically between them. Bad quality data prevents them from adapting to new business models. Bad quality data means all aspects of corporate data: coherency, availability, lifecycle, and governance.


How the Platforms of Old Remain
Legendary Finnish researcher of human communication Osmo A. Wiio wrote his “Laws of Future and Technology” in the 70’s. The first two laws are:
1. The near future is overestimated.
2. The far future is underestimated.

Approving and getting approval to concrete, reachable, and near future targets is easy. An everyday corporate IT example: business requests a mobile app, and IT delivers it just based on the business requirements without any considerations for long-term capabilities. The app can turn out to be a fine one; it could even win an industry award. It would be considered a Digital Solution. Happy times!

Did the company benefit in the long term? Did this help the company to build New Oil capabilities for the future? Perhaps not, as the next app would probably be implemented in the same fashion. Ad-hoc plumbing to gather the necessary New Oil. No platform thinking, no synergy, no long term thinking taking place as near future is so much nicer and easier to grasp than long term. The coherency, availability, lifecycle, and governance of the data at hand is done in some way, at best. This is how the foundations of bad quality data remain!


Drilling and Refining the Data
Like oil, data needs to be properly drilled and refined. For companies to build proper New Oil capabilities, new kind of business IT thinking should be practiced. One way of doing it is splitting the IT ecosystem into three simple layers:

CORE: this is the oil well of the company in which the fundamental and undivided data, the corporate crude oil resides. This data of the digital core is common to all business models.
ENABLEMENT: oil is drilled from the core and enriched according to each business model. Enriched data is served and provided in this layer that can be seen as the layer of digital platforms.
RESPONSIVE: finally, the refined new oil is distributed for various process and end-user touchpoints to consume. When you have the underlying layers set up well, the business can innovate freely to build any and all kinds of apps they can think of – without getting disrupted.
This is how you drill and refine good quality data for future artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive computing, IoT, API economy, Hadoop, and Blockchain initiatives. This is how you will not get disrupted!


P.S. No oil was drilled or used while writing this article, as my domestic electricity is produced by renewable energy sources.


[The blog was originally published in Quality Intelligence Hub. This Pulse edit was also published in LinkedIn has an extra paragraph compared to the originally published one. Please consider this version as a Director’s Cut 😉 ]

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Janne Vihervuori