How important is the data that runs your business, the data that you gather, collect, receive and share with others to keep the wheels of progress rolling.
To get an idea of how important data is to your business imagine the following scenario:
You own a successful small business that makes millions of dollars. All your data is on a single server because you run your entire business from a small office. One day, you get a call from your office manager to say that your server is down. He further confesses that there were no backups because of some technical bungling in setting up enough storage capacity.
What do you feel? Panic! Why? It’s because you have just discovered that your golden goose just dropped dead. Your golden goose was all the data that you had collected over many years on how to run your company. Since it was all stored on your server, you only have a vague idea of how to run your company. You have lost all the data on your employees, clients, trading partners, suppliers, and markets, as well as all the numbers that make up your business.
Your only hope to save your business is to find a server data recovery service quickly. At this point, they are the only chance you have to patch your company together again.
This drastic scenario gives you a good idea about the value of data. Data, then, is what makes a modern business. It is the hidden factor that runs everything.
But what exactly is data?
What is Data?
Strictly speaking, when people speak of data, they mean its plural form datum. However, we will stick with the common parlance of using data as both the singular and plural form of the word.
Data is specific information.
Software is made up of programs and data. Programs are instructions and data is what the instructions manipulate.
Data can be formatted in different ways:
- As numbers used to measure or calculate.
- As text on a blog post. For instance, reading about Dwayne Johnson’s 10 rules of success is data on success principles. He provides a heuristic on how he did it so that you can replicate his success.
- As facts stored in your mind.
- As bit and bytes stored in a computer’s electronic memory. In computing, the most important data are files that have binary data (readable by humans) and files that have ASCII data (readable by machines).
More Data about Data
Those tidy definitions of data are just general definitions. However, the more your business grows, the more you have to understand terms like big data, structured data, unstructured data, and metadata.
Big data is an umbrella word for the large volume of data that is either growing too large or moving too quickly to be successful captured using traditional database management and software coding. It is data that exceeds our present level of processing capacity.
Structured data is data that is intelligible. It makes sense to us because it has been captured through spreadsheets and relational databases.
Unstructured data is the exact opposite. It is data that does not make sense because it exceeds traditional ways of capturing, interpreting, and understanding data. One reason why futurists wrestle with the problem of big data is because much of it is unstructured data.
Metadata is data about data. This post is a metadata post because it is a discussion that describes what data is, how it works, and what to do about it.
The Significance of Data
Why in the world are we so obsessed with data?
Why, for example, does the European Organization for Nuclear Research spend about a billion dollars a year as their operating expense to run the Large Hadron Collider? Why did it spend about $13.25 billion to finding the Higgs boson in 2012?
It’s because data is the secret sauce behind any great civilization. As a species, we transmit information from one generation to another, and, as a result, each generation improves upon the previous one. Initially, we used books to transmit data. Then it was radio and television. Now with the Internet, the rate of human knowledge has reached an astonishing speed. We have become very good at collecting and applying data.
Why Data Works So Well
Data works as well as it does because of algorithms.
According to WhatIs.com, “An algorithm is a procedure or formula for solving a problem.”
In other words, it’s like a recipe on how to do something. This recipe can be replicated by anyone who follows it. For instance, if you want to build a certain machine, you can just follow an algorithm on how to do it, even if you have no prior knowledge or experience.
Since this recipe is now automated through computers, you can now collect and distribute structured, comprehensive data at the speed of electronic transmission.
What does this mean for you as a business person? It means that you can build any type of business you desire once you can get the right data. You can build it even faster if you can organize this data into an algorithm. You can also accurately replicate a successful business in another location or teach others how to build a business like yours.