In 1929, Edwin Hubble made a huge discovery: contrary to everything we first believed, the universe is expanding. From our infinitesimally small viewpoint on Earth, it's impossible to perceive, but every day, everything we know (and more that we don't) becomes mind-blowingly bigger.
CEOs think the problem lies in hiring more IT staff, and that's what makes them blind to the real issue.
Decades later, we realised the same is true for our data. The amount we create and store has exploded in size since what we might call "the Big Bang of Data", when the internet was created in the mid-to-late 90s.
However, much like how we can't begin to imagine the extent at which the universe grows each day, CEOs are blind to how data is proliferating – or perhaps rendering themselves blind, no matter how important that understanding is to their future success.
As Albert Einstein once said when asked about his fashion sense: "Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." First comes the acceptance, then you can prioritise what's important.
Without this understanding, CEOs simply don't get why information management is so important. But here's why they should.
The data universe is expanding
How much data is out there? A recent IDC report called 'The Digital Universe of Opportunities' shone a little light on the matter.
- As of 2011, 1.1 zetabytes of data had been created.
- Two years later, there were 4.4 zettabytes in existence, or one sextillion bytes of information – roughly as many bytes on Earth as there are stars in the universe, give or take a few.
- In a further five years time, that number will have increased tenfold to 44 zettabytes, IDC predicts. Store all that information in a stack of iPads, and the pile will reach the moon more than six times over.
What makes it harder for businesses is that around 85 per cent of all information created is collected by them in some way, though they have no idea how to manage it. When looking for truly valuable information, the haystack is getting bigger every day, while the size of the needle is staying the same.
A new age of information management
CEOs think the problem lies in hiring more IT staff, and that's what makes them blind to the real issue. Without business governance around collecting, storing and using information, all the IT employees in the world won't make a difference.
If there's no business framework for managing information, no delegated authority so staff members know what to do with incoming data, and no accountability in management staff, every IT venture is doomed to failure.
At the moment, Big Data and the expansion of the digital universe is only making the need for a better business understanding more pressing. CEOs that refuse to open their eyes will be, unlike Einstein, worried about their dress sense when the universe is growing more and more wondrous.
For help in preparing your organisation for data growth, the consulting team at Experience Matters is ready to help you manage your information in a way that suits a modern business.