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The cycle of data
493 words | reading time 02:00
In my last post I went about completing a comprehensive list of 9 things to do with data in any organization. However, I should have taken a minute to define it first.
Ask the collective mind (no, not wikipedia) by typing ‘Data is ‘ in google search. It autocompletes as follows (results are not always the same and vary in order):
Data is …
… beautiful 🌈 indeed
… or data are 🆚 data versus datum
… the new bacon 🥓 buy it here
… the new oil 🛢 who said that?
… not defined
Counterintuitively, only with data you get ‘not defined’ when you are searching for a definition.
While preparing my first client magnet (more to come soon!) I decided to choose water as a metaphor for data and, of course, I haven’t been the only one who have used such simile.
To make it a bit distinctive I chose the water cycle. Let’s let wikipedia illustrate it: The hydrological cycle describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. The mass of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time but the partitioning of the water into the major reservoirs of ice, freshwater, saline water and atmospheric water is variable depending on climatic variables. The water moves from one reservoir to another, such as from river to ocean, or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by the physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, surface runoff, and subsurface flow. In doing so, the water goes through different forms: liquid, solid (ice) and vapor with the involvement of energy.
Data is like cycling water. There are vast sources in different forms (structured or unstructured, data and metadata) easily transforming into the next, adopting distinctive properties. It’s a resource that feeds into every possible process, bringing life to it, allowing itself to be utilized and transformed into insights that feed decisions, decisions to innovate, incorporate into, and enlarge your services and experiences. Data is completely in control (rather than depending on) your organization’s climate. It needs to be zealously kept, in leak-free containers, cleansed before stored or consumed, properly transported through channels and pipelines that set free all its potential, in and out of the organization. Its continuous pour into any business model, oxygenates and enriches the existing storage, generating value to everyone involved.
Depending on the state of a business, it might flow free, obliviously wasted. In contrast, it can be collected and studied to unleash all its hidden attributes.
Of course, the analogy doesn’t hold at times: there is plenty of fresh data out there, but we cannot really say the same about freshwater.
Also, it inspires odd questions: If data is like water, is it needed for life to be possible? (is there data in other planets?… ok, too far?)
On a positive note, sweat is 99% data, I mean, water. And that’s why you have to put energy into it. Δ