John C Martin, CIO, Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Some of you might recognize the article title as a line from the 1984 Van Halen song “Jump”. It recently came to mind when I was thinking about the gathering storm around what is sometimes referred to as the “Data Gap”. I am afraid a lot of professionals are either not aware of what is brewing or are choosing to ignore it. When you look at the numbers it is apparent that we are heading for a virtual cliff that may very well swallow us all. This isn’t about today’s buzzwords like; “Big Data”, “Small Data”, “Dark Data” or “Tail Data”. You see, we as an industry are collecting data much quicker than we can consume it. When you look at the numbers, we in the United States alone are now creating over 25 petabytes per day. To put that in perspective, that is 25 quadrillion bytes or 25,000,000,000,000,000 bytes per day. How, you may ask, do we handle such volumes hitting our infrastructure daily. Not so well it turns out. According to Gartner, our ability to process data is doubling every 18 months which seems fantastic. Unfortunately, our data volume is increasing every 12 months! So, every year we are falling further behind in data collection vs. the ability to process. To make it worse when you add in that data complexity is doubling every four months, you might say to yourself, “Houston we have a problem”. In addition, according to the article The Digital Universe in 2020 (John Gantz and David Reinsel), only 0.5 percent of global data is analyzed and just three percent of all data is currently tagged and ready for manipulation.
We as an industry are collecting data much quicker than we can consume it. When you look at the numbers, we in the United States alone are now creating over 25 petabytes per day
However, it isn’t all bad news. This widening data gap between organizational data and its potential customer value represents a significant opportunity for businesses worldwide. Therefore, as Van Halen says you “Might as well jump, go ahead and Jump”, the “Data Gap” that is. You see, I think that Van Halen is speaking directly to you in their lyrics when they say “I get up, and nothin' gets me down.
You got it tough, I've seen the toughest around. And I know, baby, just how you feel. You got to roll with the punches and get to what's real.” However, you might say, how do I start that massive task? Again, Van Halen speaks to us in their lyrics, “You say you don't know, you won't know until you begin.”If you consider that the vast majority of that data that you might find in your organization can be considered “Dark Data”. Which are basically the information assets that organizations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes. There is usually a low-cost way to start as you can look for ways to monetize that existing resource.
You can begin by asking yourself four questions:
1. Who is your “target” customer?
2. What products/services do you offer to the customer?
3. How do you generate revenue?
4. How can you create the customer value proposition?
Data Innovation usually requires you to change at least two of the four
A successful data innovator refines, Improvises, adapts and combines existing data elements into new revenue-generating models. I contend there are only four “easy” steps to be successful in “data innovation”:
1. Initiation- Analyze your current customer model
2. Mediation- Introduce “new” customer models by changing at least two of the components (Who, How, What, Value)
• How are your competitors doing it?
• Challenge your basic assumptions
• Disregard basic tenants of your organization and/or industry
3. Integration- Examine all four new components against organizational “fit”
4. Implementation - Awaken your Innovation beast using a standard iterative “Agile” model (Design-Build-Test- Repeat)
Now, I know that I said there were four “easy” steps, but you will need to keep a few things in mind regarding Innovation. It almost always involves some sort of organizational change and with the knowledge that more than 70 percent of Organizational Change initiatives fail, keep a few rules in mind:
• Only implement one new customer model at a time
• Don’t overemphasize KPI’s
• Innovation needs time to mature
• Overcome the “ Not the way we do it”
Remember data innovation usually means learning from others and “re-inventing” your customer model. The key factor is to help decrease the current “data gap trajectory” which may well be critical to staying competitive in your industry.
Confucius said “Everything has Beauty….. But not everyone sees it.” I like to say that All Data has Value, but not everyone sees it so as Van Halen said….. “Ya, Might as well jump. Go ahead, and jump”…….the Data Gap that is.