Data Management in Business – Then, Now and Next.

If we were to categorise ‘data’ into one of the 3 universal currencies suggested by Josh Kaufman, then it clearly goes under the banner of ‘resources’. Back when personal computers were not as common, SMEs didn’t really emphasize much on data collection. This is because difficulties of gathering data outweigh its strategic advantage due to several reasons:

  1. They didn’t have a concrete way to store data.
  2. Small-sized data doesn’t really help much in decision making as it only represents the minority.
  3. The processing power of computers was incapable of utilising big data in an economically viable way.
  4. The lack of enterprise services such as those provided by Bloomberg intensified the intransparency amongst businesses.

Due to these reasons, data collection back then was mainly meant for internal and administrative uses.

Fast forward to 4.0 IR, the obstacles listed above have mostly been overcome, and data management has become the deciding factor in any company’s success.  It plays a crucial role in strategic planning from audience targeting in advertising to user interface (UI) development in R&D. It indirectly shapes the competitive advantage of your company, helping your business to stand out among your competitors.

As businesses delve into a future in which artificial intelligence(AI) will be heavily relied on, big data will play a very significant role in helping them to understand their businesses better and make better decisions. I personally believe that the flow and exchange of data between various entities will eventually become more fluid as this will encourage the interaction between different algorithms, helping them to learn at an even faster rate. From my point of view, this is not going to happen in the near future as we are still bound by the current rules and regulations which prohibit the free-flowing of data. The Personal Data Protection Act(PDPA), for example, states that data can only be used in the way that the owners have been told of at the point of collection. Therefore, data cannot be treated as a commodity and sold to any third party even though it could potentially help them to bring greater benefits to your customers and also help your business to recoup the loss in collecting these data in the first place. There is a lack of execution to prosecute the offenders, though, as our data is still being traded maliciously. Those spams in our mailbox and the cold-calls that we receive every day are solid proofs.

Assuming that the barrier of data flow has been overcome, just like how different companies will value their targets of merger and acquisitions differently, the values of data will also vary accordingly. The proverb ‘one man’s trash is another man’s gold’ is particularly true for the big data industry. Finding the right buyer not only brings greater benefits to your customers but it also brings you a greater profit. As with any other properties which have a high value associated with it, these data must be protected and insured to prevent a catastrophic loss to your company in the case of loss of data due to security breach or system failure. Therefore, the next tough challenge to solve would be to find out how cyber insurance can be done in a way that benefits both the insurer and the insured. This is not easy, however, considering the fact that the intrinsic value of data is quite difficult to determine.

Currently, there is a trust issue between various corporations and governments which provide services and the people using them. Therefore, activities which often involve sensitive data such as government surveillance would always spark uproar within the society. The key to solving this issue is to employ a strong surveillance system which would ensure that the flow of data is harmless to the people at the very least. Humans have already come this far in our colonisation of the Earth but there is still a very long way to go before we could venture into space. The free-flowing of data will speed up this process and the usage of AI shouldn’t be seen as a threat to humanity. After all, how could we possibly program our basic desires into robots? Without these desires, how could they possibly do harm to us?

 

 

 

Abel

Late-night blogging. Join me as I talk about potential startup opportunities in Malaysia.

It’s almost 4 a.m. now and I’ve just finished amending my resume for Bain & Company. This is one of the companies which I’ve dreamt of getting into all this time. I’m also currently considering building a startup now, though I’ve yet to decide on when to commit to this project.

I personally enjoy all kinds of excitement which can bring different forms of experiences into my life. This is the reason why I took the opportunity to work in Japan around a year ago. Now, back to the topic. People always ask me this question whenever I’ve told them that I want to start my own company: what product do you have in your mind?

In my opinion, for any business to thrive, it must first identify a lucrative and sustainable industry. The product itself should not come first, and the entrepreneurs should never fall in love with their products. A product which cannot justify its position within its own market is most likely merely an internal hype and it will never become a commercial success. Think of that electric tie press in Jeff Bezos’ ‘The Electric Metaphor’ TEDTalk.

I am a strong believer in the fact that mankind will constantly evolve to become greater. Through the universalization of education, humans will become more humane in the future. (Slightly off-topic here, but this is the exact reason why I believe that a 3rd World War is unlikely.) Through history, we know that it always took time for mankind to build up their sense of morality as in the case of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 or a more tangible example – environment protection act. Every country and civilisation has to experience major revolutions to bring forth the improvement in the quality of life, but these often give rise to unforeseen complications. As an example, the Slavery Abolition Act created a void in the labour force, solved by the application of steam engines after the industrial revolution which in turn prompted environmental concern due to the high CO2 discharge rate. Based on my deduction, green energy and sustainable production technology are going to become more and more dominant in the future and thus I’m considering this as a very viable option.

I’m also setting my eyes on e-commerce. The market in well-developed countries is probably way too saturated with this now but for developing countries like Malaysia, there is still a very big room for improvement. E-commerce allows trivial tasks to be done more efficiently and thus it is perfectly logical to deduce that it’ll become an essential part of our lives in the future.

Malaysians are still used to ordering online just to receive their parcels around a month later. In my opinion, this phenomenon won’t stay for long as it is human nature to pursue a better life. A local parcel delivery startup which can match SF Express in China will probably make itself to the headlines in the future.

These are just a few of my ideas which I’ve thought of recently. I’m still struggling (or rather, procrastinating) to identify the field which I want to get myself into if I’m going to build a startup. I’m not being pessimistic here, but if I got rejected by the big names which I’d applied to, I’d probably go all-in to start my own company. The recent gold price surge is basically telling us that people are losing hope in the global economy and that a recession is likely to come soon. Just like how the 2008 financial crisis had created Uber and Airbnb, this could spark the growth of some unforeseeable markets. We should either grab this chance or miss it and wait for another decade.