Thursday, May 11, 2017

Data - More Valuable than Oil? via The Economist

The hype about data continues - now it is more valuable than oil! The Economist reports that The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data. Companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are "titans" who "deal in data, the oil of the digital era". They have vast amounts of data on us all that is now regarded as a "God’s eye view" of their users' activities. While The Economist discusses how data is valuable to companies it also considers the power of data in different ways: "Google can see what people search for, Facebook what they share, Amazon what they buy" - this can be used to stifle competition. Anti-trust authorities must move to the 21st century and become more "data-savvy in their analysis of market dynamics" to protect privacy. The article signs off with a warning: "But if governments don’t want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon".

Image source: The Economist.
All of this is true, and I'm certain that data is indeed the "oil of the digital era". I'm not sure it is "more valuable than oil" - try getting data to heat your house in the winter, power your car, make plastic, fly across the ocean, and generate electricity to run our computers - but it makes for a good headline. Everybody needs to be more "data-savvy", which is good news for Colleges and Lecturers like myself - we have to keep innovating to provide the right education for students who will need to be as knowledgeable about data as their ability to read and write.

Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write (HG Wells, 1903).

No comments:

Post a Comment