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Why is data

the new oil?

Data is all around us in a way that our ancestors would never have contemplated.


According to the International Data Corporation, the digital universe is expected to have surpassed 59 zettabytes in 2020,
a figure which, if correct, means there are around 50 times more bytes than there are stars in the observable universe.


To put these statistics into a more user-friendly context, a gigabyte is one billion bytes, and a zettabyte is the equivalent of a trillion gigabytes. In short, that means there is a lot of data out there.


And data can relate to almost anything. Cambridge Dictionary defines data as: “information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision-making, or information in an electronic form that can be stored and used by a computer”.


In 2017, The Economist ran a story claiming data to have replaced oil as the world’s most valuable commodity, and since then the phrase ‘data is the new oil’ has stuck.


The analogy is fairly accurate. A drop of oil, just like a single piece of data, is not valuable in and of itself – rather, the value is created by collecting it en masse in a way that is complete and accurate.


Data informs almost every decision we make in our personal and working lives, its importance reflected by the fact it has become an enormous industry in its own right, worth many billions of dollars.

Indeed, research published by MarketsandMarkets suggests the global big data market will grow from a value of $138.9 billion in 2020 to $229.4 billion by 2025, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of around 10.5%.

This is being driven by an ever-connected world that is exploiting the ease at which people can communicate between each other, as discussed in our white paper, Dealing with data: How to give your campaigns the best chance of success:

• Statista estimates that there were 22 billion Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices in the world by the end of 2018, a figure which is set to rise to 50 billion by 2030.
Google processes over 40,000 search queries a second, equating to more than 3.5 billion searches a day, up from around 10,000 daily searches in 1998.
WhatsApp users exchange up to 65 billion messages per day, with five million companies leveraging its business app to connect directly with their customers.
306 billion emails are sent each day, a figure which Statista predicts will hit more than 376 billion by 2025.

Indeed, research published by MarketsandMarkets suggests the global big data market will grow from a value of $138.9 billion in 2020 to $229.4 billion by 2025, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of around 10.5%.

This is being driven by an ever-connected world that is exploiting the ease at which people can communicate between each other, as discussed in our white paper, Dealing with data: How to give your campaigns the best chance of success:

• Statista estimates that there were 22 billion Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices in the world by the end of 2018, a figure which is set to rise to 50 billion by 2030.
Google processes over 40,000 search queries a second, equating to more than 3.5 billion searches a day, up from around 10,000 daily searches in 1998.
WhatsApp users exchange up to 65 billion messages per day, with five million companies leveraging its business app to connect directly with their customers.
306 billion emails are sent each day, a figure which Statista predicts will hit more than 376 billion by 2025.

All of this activity creates yet more data. If data were a country, its economy would be growing seven times faster than that of the UK (based on 2019 figures).


Data is about knowledge, and knowledge is a means to power, a concept coined in the late 1500s by English lawyer, statesman and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon in 1597, whose words have been routinely adopted by prominent figures in society ever since.
For organisations today, data is fuel. It provides critical insights into how a business is performing and the characteristics of its target audience. It can inform predictions into where the market for your products is headed, and how your company should respond in kind.


Indeed, according to research conducted by McKinsey, data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers. Further still, they are six times as likely to retain customers and 19 times more likely to operate at a profit – such companies on average, according to BARC, cut their costs by 10% and generate 8% more profit.


Meanwhile, and arguably most telling of all, is Forrester’s prediction that by 2021 ‘insight-driven’ enterprises will take $1.8 trillion of business annually from their less-informed competitors.

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