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The secret life of data

by Andrew White  |  September 6, 2013  |  1 Comment

“The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on.” said Omar Khayyám.  But what happened to the data, once his eyes, and yours, moved on?

What happens to data when no one is looking?  What is the secret life data?

  • Does it blink out of this reality and into another?
  • Does its half-life of intrinsic value leak away?

If no one looks at the data, is it any less valuable?  What about tomorrow, when new data is created?  What about when there is a new alternative data for the one you thought you were protecting?

If our eyes don’t scan it, if our business systems don’t integrate it, if our ears don’t hear it, is it any less valuable?

Surely it is- since re-use (of any asset) implies higher utilization.  Lower utilization must mean lower value….

Who is accounting for this value?

The smiling face of a possible mate is far more valuable than any number of business reports! What is information anyway?  How is the business outcome defined?

“I am here.  You can’t see me, any more at least.  I am here, hiding in that brand spanking new data warehouse you built last year.

I’m eating up electricity and energy all the while you ponder your next report requirement.  I was top of mind once, way back.  Everyone wanted me.  Even the CFO wanted me.  I was the bees knees.  Now, no one cares for me…   What did I do?

I was part a ‘KPI’ that described I don’t know what.  I had peers- usurpers to the crown, offering source data.  We were all different.  But I had a master who vouched for my credibility.  You know, a business user.  There were others.  They came, one after another, seeking me and my insight.

They battled.  My original user lost.  But I persisted since her needs are satisfied by me. Until and if she leaves the company, my safety is assured.

Some liken me and my kind to rabbits.  As if we replicate as freely. We are here only to serve our (business) master needs.  Honest.

Some liken me and my kind to lemmings.  As if we grow uncontrollably.  We don’t.  Even Lemmings don’t actually mutually self destruct as myth would have it.  They fluctuate in numbers, as we do.  The power of population growth may define my limits.  I don’t know.  I am a byte.  You figure it out.

One day we maybe in the ascendancy.  What of you, then, my master?

I burn brightly still and spend your money.  How grateful I am for life.  I seek to be relevant to another. In time I will be.  My time, my elevated time, will come again.

I know this since I have seen how other data are treated.  Their time waxes and wanes.

Watch me, count me, value me, investment in me, if you can.”

Category: infonomics  information-as-an-asset  information-innovation-yield-curve  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a research vice president and agenda manager for MDM and Analytics at Gartner. His main research focus is master data management (MDM) and the drill-down topic of creating the "single view of the product" using MDM of product data. He was co-chair… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The secret life of data

  1. Yogesh Malik says:

    If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

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