First up: Turning lead into gold – and data into £££
Back in the middle ages, pseudoscientists were obsessed with the pursuit of Alchemy: a ‘chemistry’ (kind of) that could turn virtually worthless metals into gold. But this process sat somewhere between science and magic, featuring equal parts logic and mystical nonsense.
We can’t help but feel that today, something similar is happening with data. Businesses are expecting their data to almost magically transform into ROI for their business, without really understanding the raw data they are dealing with, the processes it needs to go through, or the limitations of the data that’s at their disposal.
The pressure is on CDOs, CTOs and data technology providers to make that magic happen and transform a company’s data into pure gold. But just like alchemy, it’s not going to work. For a business to extract value from their data, they need a business-wide process to follow, and a realistic, achievable goal to work towards.
While alchemists might not have succeeded in turning lead into gold, it is now scientifically possible – if you can collide neutrons with lead atoms at speed. Unfortunately, this method works out far more expensive than the minuscule amount of gold it creates is worth.
So why bother? Why not make that lead into something that does have value, or scrap the lead altogether and use something else?
We’ve seen businesses invest thousands of pounds and hours into data initiatives that are doomed to fail from the start. They start out with a wildly ambitious data goal, a database full of poor-quality records, and an expensive piece of technology that they anticipate will make anything possible.
Often, they do manage to extract some value from the data in the process – but they don’t get the results they thought they would. Over time, it becomes a disheartening, frustrating experience that damages a business’ perception of how valuable data can really be.