I know what you are thinking. ‘Yes of course the guy who works for a data consultancy says you have to get involved with data. He just wants my business or my money and it’s yet another IT / Internet area that I lose control of.’ *puts hands over ears*
If this is you, or it might sound similar to you then we really do need to speak. On the other hand if you already agree with, or work in data then you can wander off and read something else, because you already know. Right?
Who’s still here? Good, please read on. I’m really saying something stronger than get involved. I’m actually saying (slowly so you can hear me) that if your business or organisation doesn’t get involved with data (it’s, your's and other people's) you will almost certainly risk dying out. As stone cold and redundant as Polly the parrot in the famous Monty Python sketch (which some of you will now Google)
Why do I say this? I say this because I’ve not seen a wave of transformation with this much momentum coming since we started the Internet up with a crank handle back in the early 1990s . Some of you might remember how it didn’t seem that important then whether you had a web site, or that email seemed to be just a sort of hand fax thing with a computer but what happened to those companies and whole industries that didn’t adapt? They are gone, like Polly.
But forgetting history for now, lets look at today and we have a convergence of three critical and enabling areas.
- The Internet has fully grown up and we are now connecting everything we can to it. WiFi is getting faster, so is connectivity, it’s also becoming ubiquitous. Everything we buy or use or make is getting a sensor fitted. The sensor may be a cheap, simple, stupid, or a clever sensor, powered or not powered, almost everything will have some sort of connectivity shortly, even if it’s just a binary one use flag that says it might need replacing. Crucially the networks are rolling out that can track the sensors. See the Spanish company Sigfox for example and their recent arrival in the US. Heard of them? Whatever your business type or sector this will affect you, or someone will use it to affect or disrupt you.
- Companies and large data bases are being connected (with help) and open data and other sources are enabling us to find out and use all sort of information which wasn’t available to us before. See the Open Data Institute for example. Database technologies have evolved. We can us data to make better decisions, perform better marketing, understand our relationships better and we can aim to become data driven.
- People are firing off the big money guns. Consider Uptake, an upstart of a data consultancy which only had 4 employees last summer. It’s just raised $45 million which values it as start up worth over $1 Billion USD! In one bound Upstart are saying that they are better than the traditional big consultancies and that they can scale into industries from a standing start and be worth billions. Look at Samsara which Marc Andressen has recently invested $25 million of his money in. Do you remember Netscape? That was Marc. Or perhaps consider Krux, another US based data player who raised $35 million last year
The money being raised and the valuations being supported aren’t because investors are investing in what we used to think of as technology companies. They feel that these companies are either enabling this data revolution, or will win by absorbing companies markets where the old incumbents don’t adapt quickly enough. In short there isn’t a technical sector any more outside of hardware, as all companies are becoming data driven companies. Whatever industry you are in needs to learn to partly, or completely evolve into this new and now data age, or risk becoming extinct.