Why am I tired of hearing about Data?

I recently completed a master’s degree in information systems management and I tell you this not to show off, but rather to provide some background as to my articles title. After almost 2 years of research, investigation, referencing and study I find myself with a very relevant qualification, an up to date appreciation of data and its usage and a new company that is devoted to helping organisations realise the value of data for themselves and their customers.

My frustration is a relatively simple one, why is it that everyone is talking about the value of data and how this will be the next great enabler, ‘the beginning of the information age’, ‘the next oil rush’. Yet there are so many organisations that are choosing to either ignore it completely or possibly even worse just treat it as another IT project.

Data and information are not IT, in just the same way that oil is not a car. Oil is an industry, it can shape your strategy, inform your product choices or change the way that you think or act. Data and Information are the same they are a commodity that can inform, enhance, direct and formulate, IT is about how you use tools to operate or run your business ie. what car you pick and how you drive it, but oil is the elementary form of what drives you along.

In the same way that oil must be refined in order to become petrol, or any other form of oil-based plastic or polymer, so Data needs to be refined in order to deliver the fuel to your organisation. Some organisations have started to recognise this with the appointment of Chief Data Officers (CDO) who work along with the Chief Information Officer (CIO), the latter being responsible for IT, budgets, selection of tools, etc and the former responsible for creating organisational value from the data that the organisation has collected or needs to find.

So, to my thoughts for our industry, some are taking data very seriously and seeing the value and opportunity that it presents and investing heavily in the use of data into the future, these are unfortunately the very few. Some are testing the waters and asking the CIO or IT departments to create a data strategy and some are burying their head in the sand and hoping this does not affect them or adopting a wait and see attitude to see if data really does have the impact on our industry that everyone is talking about.

Over the coming weeks I intend to release all of the research that I completed over the last 2 years, as it is all around that of Information Systems in the Built Environment, but in addition to this and in conjunction with www.i-fm.net I will be interviewing more organisations on what they are actually doing right now with Data in the Built Environment, how they gather it, how they interact with it, how they process it and how they learn from it. I hope to bring both client and provider perspectives and I hope that it provides some insight into the what is happening on the ground rather than what could be happening 5 years from now.

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