Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.
There is often as much myth as reality surrounding digital technologies, and nowhere is this more so than with data. We’re flooded with messages about the vast quantities of data that are being generated on a daily basis, and how accessing this data is a prerequisite to success in the modern economy.
In Access Rules, Oxford University’s Viktor Mayer Schonberger and Thomas Ramge argue that this narrative creates an impression that the digital giants, such as Google and Amazon, have their lofty status because only they are really capable of dealing with this deluge of data.
“It makes it obvious that traditional companies are completely overwhelmed by this flood of data,” they write. “They don’t have the supercomputers to handle zettabytes. And even worse, they lack the smart guys who are able to detect and keep the hidden insights of Big Data thanks to their secret knowledge of algorithms.”
3 myths around data
Unfortunately, this narrative creates a false perception of the true strategic advantages digital companies have over their traditional peers. The authors explain that this hoax has three key elements:
- The first of these surrounds the computing power needed to store and make sense of the huge quantities of data that are being generated. They argue that there is a belief that organizations need supercomputer-type resources to truly capitalize on data, when the reality is that cloud computing gives nearly all organizations access to enough computing power to do all they need.
- The second myth that can hold people back is the big tech giants have a huge competitive advantage courtesy of the algorithms that power their services. It can be tempting to think that such is the apparent stranglehold on tech talent and that the data advantage tech firms have is due to the algorithms their tech wizards have developed to derive insights from the data. That isn’t really the case, however, as many of these algorithms are publicly available and often open-source.
- The final myth builds on the second and focuses on the supposed genius-level ability behind the tech firm’s success. We’ve been led to believe that Google and Amazon are teeming with geniuses and it’s this superior collective IQ that is a major reason for their success. The authors believe that this view doesn’t really reflect reality and that many organizations can claim to have talent that is comparable to that within the Silicon Valley-based teams.
So what is it that gives the tech giants such a competitive advantage? The authors believe that it is quite simply access to data sources that few other organizations can match.
“The digital giants have created mechanisms, opportunities, and applications in their fields to collect massive amounts of data that they alone control,” they write. “The data giants share their raw material with others only in exceptional circumstances…which is the basis for how their business is valued, and it leaves their competitors bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.”
Article source: 3 Myths About Data You Need To Understand.
Header image source: Markus Spiske on Unsplash.