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March 29, 2016
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Data Is Your Most Valuable Asset

I recently discussed the future of data with Arun Murthy, one of the founders of Hortonworks.  

The good news is that, not only is the technology available, but Hortonworks customers are already getting competitive advantage from their data right now.   The dream that Arun and the other founders had when they created Hortonworks of Powering the Future of Data, is a reality.

We’ve also known for a while that the volume and variety of data is growing at an amazing rate. It’s only increasing.  Now every connected thing is emitting a signal.  The entire world is covered with wireless over 3G or 4G, and 5G is only going to be faster and cheaper.   It has also become practical and affordable to add sensors into just about anything.   

But what’s next?  What do you need to do? After speaking with Arun, I came out with two key pieces of advice.

First, realize that data is the most valuable asset you own.    It is only through insights on data that businesses truly get to competitive differentiation nowadays.  Today’s digital world is otherwise just too complex to run intuitively.

Technologies like databases, cloud, virtualization, and the like, come and go.  On the other hand, data is permanent and its impact is tangible. But it’s something that needs to be curated and collected to derive the true value.  Done right, it’s something that can change the very essence of how business is transacted.   

There are retailers, for example, who have captured every single click ever on their web site and have designed their business around the insights they have derived from this data.   That sort of depth and breadth of data is unbelievably valuable, and has propelled their companies forward with foresight and insight.

Replacing that kind of data would just be impossible —  like changing memories of events and experiences.  It just can’t be done. 

Second, companies need to start now by finding and keeping all their data

Today, it is possible to cost effectively collect and store all of the data. Starting with customer behavioral data (clickstreams, locations, time, preferences, product usage, buying patterns).  Then expanding out to all business data.  Then eventually starting to capture the data that matters outside the business across the supply chain and business ecosystem.  

Businesses then also need to look to their apps. Most apps in the past held data hostage in separate silos.  It was really hard to move and aggregate data in a meaningful way from one app to another.   Companies are starting to realize by sharing, collating and aggregating data across all of their apps, data and the corresponding insights become a highly tangible asset. That’s what the notion of the modern data app is all about.

Listening to Arun, one can’t help to come to the conclusion that the future of data is really bright, and everybody — enterprises, organizations, individuals — are already benefitting from amazing advances across every industry and line of business.  

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