How data became the new oil
We are living in a digital age. Our phones, computers and event our watch can access the internet. As such, data has become one of most valuable commodities, on a level with oil in the industrial era. While oil powered the economic growth in the past, data has become the driving force behind the technological revolution shaping our future.
Here, we look at the parallels between data and oil, the rise of social media as a data goldmine, and how data is being harnessed across various sectors.
In the world we live in data can be anything from personal details, such as our home address, to our favourite music. Our own personal data is shared with websites and social media networks, supermarkets and shops. Data on customers, clients and even patients has always been captured. This is the case for various reasons, from looking after their own wellbeing (in the case of healthcare) to finding out more about their shopping habits.
But the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a major data privacy law, was enacted in the European Union in May 2018. This meant that websites and companies legally had to be more transparent about the data they capture.
As the digital world becomes more advanced, it’s increasingly likely that our personal details will fall into the wrong hands. Therefore, data protection has become a crucial part of our everyday lives, with companies training staff in how to manage the data they deal with daily.
The introduction of social media platforms marked a turning point in the data landscape. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms provided individuals with the opportunity to share personal information, preferences, and behaviours in a totally new way.
The collective result has been a significant growth in the volume and variety of data generated. This data explosion has presented businesses, governments, and researchers with a treasure trove of information to analyse and make informed decisions. It’s also meant these organisations have more information on us than ever before – and it’s because we put it there.
Like oil, data is a finite resource that requires extraction and refinement. It has formed strategies across businesses across a range of industries, from retail to healthcare to finance. Data-driven decision-making is crucial for gaining a competitive edge. By analysing vast amounts of data, businesses can uncover consumer trends, personalise adverts, and make the customer journey better.
However, it’s crucial that businesses remain with the legal parameters. Many companies have sought legal advice about how to properly manage data in this technology-driven age we live in. The landscape is changing rapidly, so it’s crucial that boundaries are set and adhered to.
Additionally, it’s becoming easier for hackers to access information and scammers to get everything from personal details to bank account logins. As such, the way data is managed faces even more legal issues.
Looking ahead, data’s influence is set to expand even further. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices will generate data from diverse sources. With 5G technology enabling faster data transfer speeds, the potential for real-time analysis and insights will soar. However, as the reliance on data intensifies, so too will the need for data literacy and cybersecurity measures to safeguard against unauthorised access and breaches.