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Data is like gasoline

Updated: May 20, 2019

When it comes to analogies, data has been likened to oil, water, gold, among many other valuable commodities. We look at data from a different angle and think it's like gasoline: both were once useless by-products that later became big businesses themselves.

19th Century Oil was originally farmed from the earth and processed to make kerosene for home lighting. Back then gasoline was just a by-product of this process, an unavoidable cost of doing business.

Early 20th Century

Then the automobile took off, powered by gasoline-burning internal combustion engines. Very quickly what was once a by-product of the oil business became big business itself.

Late 20th Century

With the advent of computers businesses started collecting and storing data generated as a by-product of their everyday activities. Data was an unavoidable cost of doing business, sitting in large databases without adding any value. 


Today is different. AI systems, fueled by data, are transforming businesses. What was once a by-product (data)  has become big business. And the old pattern is repeating itself.

But you don’t need to be huge to turn your data into work. You just need a big picture understanding of what data science can do, powered by your data, and how it could help your business.

Is your business generating data as a by-product, instead of as fuel? Tell us about it.

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