The job of companies has traditionally been to make sure that they protect their physical assets from damage. But thanks to the rise of technology, the value economy of “stuff” relative to data is declining. Tech millionaire and entrepreneur Jaron Lanier has made the observation and pointed out that the majority of people who are getting rich in the world of technology today, have a big computer nearby that stores a lot of data. Facebook, for instance, has a treasure trove of data relating to people’s preferences and their online behavior. Google has an even bigger one. And new upstarts, like Uber, are doing a similar sort of thing. They’re leveraging the power of their data to offer new levels of service to their customers.
A lot of businesses see the benefits of being close to data and how it is impacting the economy as a whole. Go back fifty years, and the biggest companies in the world were those that owned the most assets. General Electric, General Motors, Boeing, and Shell were all very valuable because they owned factories and oil rigs. These days, these companies aren’t worth as much as the big tech companies. Microsoft, for instance, has a valuation of more than $300 billion. Amazon, the online shopping giant, is even more valuable. And Google is approaching a market cap of more than a trillion dollars, which it will surely achieve if it continues to successfully develop and implement artificial intelligence technologies.
Doug Yakola has seen his fair share of companies in crisis during his time in business leadership. As the Chief Financial Officer of more than a dozen companies, he’s had several what he calls “boiled frog” moments. Companies, he says, are like frogs put in warm water that are slowly heated up. They often don’t realize that anything is wrong until the water’s boiling and it’s too late to escape. It isn’t necessarily down to bad management. It’s often just that the senior management team isn’t able to accept that the world has changed and moved on and their company hasn’t. The power of inertia can be strong in business.
Other companies get into a crisis by not focusing on the right data. They have the right idea, Yakola says, using data to help make decisions. But sometimes the data they are using is not useful when it comes to improving their revenue. Using the wrong data hamstrings companies and causes them to become less and less relevant to the needs of the market.
After having so many near misses himself, Yakola took a step back and asked how ailing companies can lead themselves out of a crisis. Here is some of his hard-won wisdom.
From the 1980s into the 1990s, a pair of data scientists, Geoff Hinton and Yann LeCun laid the foundations of artificial intelligence. They came up with the idea of a neural net, a kind of statistical tool that could be trained, rather than programmed. Because of its similarities to the human mind, they borrowed the term “neural” and used it as a metaphor.
The problem was that back in the 1980s, the idea wasn’t actually very useful. Neural nets require thousands, sometimes millions, of pieces of data to train. But because the internet was basically non-existent and sensors were expensive, there was hardly any data to actually feed these systems. Neural net technology was seen as interesting from a theoretical perspective, but the idea never took off, simply because the world wasn’t generating enough data to make it operational.
Data appears to be the new currency of the 21st century. It is becoming more imperative for all large organizations like governments and corporations to function in a meaningful way in world where the rate of human knowledge appears to be doubling every 18 months. Moreover, IBM estimates that as the Internet of Things builds out, this will be every 12 hours.
Governments need to access accurate data to make relevant decisions about a wide variety of issues from border security to annual employment. Inaccurate data can lead to wasteful spending, the wrong course of action, or an inability to manage large scale problems.
Meanwhile, corporations need to share accurate and current data among their different departments. Accounts receivables might need access to inventory records for parts’ numbers and description to create invoices, marketing might need product specs to create credible leads for the sales dept, and human resources might need significant job description data to hire the right talent for different departments.
As a business owner you need to acknowledge that should data go missing, it can be an incredibly stressful and worrying time. There’s no way to know what has happened to it immediately. You need to take the time to work out what’s gone wrong so that you can deal with the cause accordingly. Of course, that being said, it’s important that as soon as you notice that a piece of data is missing, that you start trying to work out what has happened, and recover the piece because the longer you leave it, the less likely you are to find and recover it.
Determining the cause of missing data isn’t always easy, hopefully, however, the tips and pieces of advice below will help you to do that.
If your business workflow and project planning isn’t highly honed and organized, it’s doomed to fail. If you want to be a reputable company and have loyal customers, you’re going to need to change things up immediately.
Check out these five reasons disorganized businesses are likely to fail, and see if any of them are familiar to your company’s situation.
I have had a lot of opportunities over 2016 to review great tech and home office products. I have also been able to work with some great companies. The best part is when you get to work with one of the companies to give back to your readers for the holiday season.
One of my favorite reviews, and products that I have had the opportunity to use in 2016, is the HP Color LaserJet MFP M477fdw Printer. I can’t believe that I have been using the printer for over a year now. It stills works as well as when I first reviewed it. The quality of the printing has not diminished and I still think that it is the perfect printer for all your home office and small business needs.
As a recap, the HP Color LaserJet MFP M477fdw Printer offers the following features: