Your Data: No Matter What You Do, It's Your Most Valuable Asset (Part 1)

Authored by Donald C. Gillette, Ph.D., Data Consultant @ GuideIT

Donald C. Gillette, Ph.D, Data Consultant

Donald C. Gillette, Ph.D, Data Consultant

If you don’t embrace the fact that your business’ greatest asset is your data, not what you manufacture, sell or any other revenue-generating exercise, you will not exist in five years.  That’s right…five years.

Not so sure that’s true? Ask entertainment giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. their perspective. They recently filed Chapter 11 and have learned that their data is what creditors value. (Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2015, Prize in Caesars Fight: Data on Players. Customer loyalty program is valued at $1 billion by creditors). The data intelligence of their customers is worth more than any of their other assets including Real Estate. 

Before working to prove this seemingly bold statement, let’s take a look back to capture some much needed perspective about data.

The Mainframe

Space and resources were expensive and systems were designed and implemented by professionals who had a good knowledge of the enterprise and its needs.  Additionally, very structured process(s) existed to develop systems and information. All this investment and structure was often considered a bottleneck and an impediment to progress.  Critical information such as a customer file, or purchasing history, was stored in a single, protected location. Mainframe Business Intelligence offerings were report-writing tools like the Mark IV. Programmers and some business users were able to pull basic reports.  However, very little data delivered intelligence like customer buying habits.

Enter the Spreadsheet

With the introduction of the PC, Lotus 123 soon arrived in the market.  We finally had a tool that could represent data in a two dimensional (2D) format enabling the connection of valuable data to static business information. Some actionable information was developed resulting in better business decisions. This opened up a whole new world to what we now call business intelligence. Yet, connecting the right data points was a cumbersome, manual process. Windows entered the scene and with it, the market shifted from Lotus to Excel carrying over similar functionality and challenges.

Client Server World Emerges

As client servers emerged in the marketplace, data was much more accessible. It was also easier to connect together, relative to the past, providing stakeholders real business intelligence and its value to the enterprise. With tools like Cognos, Teradata, and Netezza in play, data moved from 2D to 3D presentation. Microsoft also entered the marketplace with SQL Server. All this change actually flipped the challenges of the Mainframe era.  Instead of bottlenecked data that’s hard to retrieve, version creep had entered the fold…multiple versions of similar information in multiple locations. What’s the source of truth?

Tune in next week as we provide support for data being your most valuable asset with a perspective and case study analysis of a Business Intelligence model that uses all technology platforms and delivers the results to your smartphone.