No matter who you are and what you do for a living, you’ve probably heard people talking outlandishly about data. “Data is the new oil,” they might say. Or “data is digital gold.” While these statements take out the context and are a little extreme, the importance of data can’t quite be overstated.
It has become currency for all kinds of digital, social media, and technology companies. As it turns out, people’s information is very significant. It can help inform all kinds of business decisions, even the creation of new products and services. Data shapes our digital world with algorithmic results. Whether you are interested in advancing technology or just want to get a better grasp on it all, below is a guide to data and its viability in business.
What is Data?
Essentially, data is any piece of information that is collected for analysis and reference. In the digital world, it is more complex. Every time you visit a website, data is created. When you post on social media, data is created. Data, in the sense of cyber security, is the digital information that shows where the person was, what they did, and how they did it online. It is also the information that people give to companies when they make a purchase or sign up for a purchase. Data is any number of digital information that is compiled, stored, analyzed, and traded amongst companies.
Why Data is So Valuable
Data is valuable because it can be used to make profit. Whether it’s by gathering that data that shows which ads people are responding to on social media or data that shows what people in a specific region prefer about a product, data can inform businesses and provide new ways to analyze the information. It can help a business get to know their customer base. For example, properly analyzed data can be put into software, composed as graphs, and categorized carefully to make precise representations of people’s wants, needs, behavior, and desires. It can reveal a lot to a business about what is working and what isn’t. It can help them create new products, services, and branding.
Data Accuracy vs. Data Integrity
Of course, the data that is used for these purposes needs to be valid. There is a difference between the accuracy of the data and its integrity, but both are vital. Data accuracy is the quality of the data a company collects. If the quality is high, the business can base pivotal decisions on it. Accuracy means that it reflects reality. Accurate data will prove its worth by showing up correct in the tangible operations of a business.
On the other hand, data integrity is how consistent and relevant this information stays over time. Data could be very accurate when it is initially gathered, but as time goes on these numbers change and the integrity of the data could be compromised by failing to remain accurate or significant to what the business is doing. Both data accuracy and integrity are instrumental, and there are third party companies that provide services to help you understand the accuracy and integrity of data sets.
The Future of Data
As more and more data is collected by businesses both large and small, it will become increasingly effective. Businesses will buy and sell data legally whether it is moral. Data will be analyzed not just by humans with software, Excel, and graphs, it will be analyzed by artificial intelligence. AI can organize and deeply analyze large sets of data in seconds. It can create accessible images and graphs to work with. It can even provide direct solutions to problems and ideas for new revenue streams. The future of data is not fully known, but one thing is for sure. It will remain incredibly vital to business and technology.
Whether you are skeptical about this technological future or are excited about these incredible changes, there is no way to stop it. Data has been used to make profit for businesses for years already and it is only becoming more sophisticated. However you feel about it all, it is important to watch as data usage evolves and determine how it can best be used to benefit humanity—not just a handful of wealthy investors.