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Datapreneurship for the era of data responsibility

In Jan 2018, Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation posted an article on www.weforum.org. It was titled, “We need a new era of data responsibility.” According to a Boston Consultancy Group report, the value of personal data could reach EUR 1 trillion by 2020. There is no question about the value of data. Specifically, person centric data. This is the reason, I titled my book – The Billion Dollar Byte.

However, “responsibility” only comes with the good understanding of what data is, and what it is not.

Unfortunately, many leaders in organisations aren’t very clear about how to manage data, particularly for economic value. Incidentally, data management is often confused with “data governance” alone, that too only for regulatory purposes. Walk into any large organisation, such as a financial institute and talk to the Chief Data Officers, Chief Information Officer or even the Chief Architects.  You will find that every individual has their own point of view and convictions around it. But, they will be doing very little about data and its financial valuation.

For the simple minded, though, data is just a reflection of a business process, which in turn is a reflection of the business model and which in turn is a reflection of the business strategy.

Data is only as valuable as the involved process. In fact, if the involved process has an involved person, you bet that is valuable. So, valuable that parties are even waiting to steal it!

The best bet for any responsible enterprise is to first acknowledge that businesses are only as disciplined as their processes and their people. And this discipline gets reflected in their data usage and consumption.

Interestingly, merely holding data and managing it for the sake of it, is not a guarantee for taking good actions. In January 2018, I had published an article in Scientific American about the America’s Ageing Infrastructure and how big data could help. It is clear that there is sufficient opportunity to capture and manage data. But, what is more important is an organisation’s ability to act on that data. To take meaningful action in meeting goals and objectives.

The issue is more about people, than it is about technology.  In fact, it is only about people, because people make all the choices and decisions. I will also go to the extent of saying that it is all about leadership.

It is clear that any person considering themselves to be a leader in the digital age is due for an urgent upgrade in their competencies. Industrial age competencies are no longer serving us well. It is time we switch to a newer set of competencies that are strongly founded on the use of data for decision making and taking action on data. It is a function of our ability to act on data.

This new competency is called ‘datapreneurship’. Because data creates value only when people want it to and it is a responsibility which every digital age leader must embrace, as Ginni Rometty mentioned.