Can You Imagine a World without Data?
Since the dotcom boom, data has been at the centre of the essentials needed to run the world. Each and every activity requires some data to be processed and without data, the world might return to stone-age. Google is estimated to process 20 petabytes (PB) on a daily basis. For calculation purposes, 1 PB is equivalent to 1,000 TB. This amount is processed by a single company. Though it is the biggest in case of average data processing, but still, the amount of data being produced, processed and shared in the world remains humongous. You will need data to pitch stocks, data to file financial reports and data to provide better service to your clients, data to arrive at projections, data to assess performance – the list just goes on.
How data can be used to your advantage in a real life scenario?
Let us consider an example networking with the famous Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner. Imagine that you land up a meeting with him and want to invite him to your fundraiser event. You cannot just plainly hand him an invitation with “Please Visit Us”; you need to give him a compelling reason to attend your event and participate in the motive behind it.
You need to provide him data about your firm, data about what you do, what is your financial situation along with what your business plan is, and how far are you willing to go in order to generate highly attractive returns. A copy of the “About Us” page of your firm would not make the cut here. The data that you present is what matters. You can very well notice, that even to attract an investor you need some data.
No data = No peace of mind
Imagine what will happen to the world if there is no data. Well, if you cannot, the rest of the article will give you an insight. Here are some ways in which the world would look like when there is no involvement of data.
The world without data will mean the end of the road for financial institutions. This is one of those industries that are heavy generators and consumers of data. Financial institutions would not be able to survive without data as their functioning involves processing of data either for customers or for clients and if they are not able to provide their clients some information, many other industries will also be affected as a result. Also, the stock markets will take a major hit because firstly, the major players would not have any info with the help of which they can invest in a company and secondly, regulators will also lack the info required to ensure its smooth functioning.
You would not be able to walk in a financial institution and say “pitch me a stock” because they would not have the raw material required to process a gold mining stock. You may also forget about the credit/debit/ATM card you are carrying. B2B transactions are heavily dependent on electronic transfer and if there was no data, they will have to visit the banks and deposit cash. You can also forget about companies like VISA, MasterCard, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs as they will no longer exist because these are processors of “big data” and devise a lot of stats through processed data. Since, data and statistics go hand in hand; you can say that the world without data will mean the world without raw material for these companies.
You have been researching to develop a cutting edge product that will kick others out of the market. Since we are imagining a world without data, assume that you cannot store any data during the research process. What will happen next is that you are going to start fresh on your research every day without any account of the experiments you did yesterday. In simple words, the frequency of “eureka” moments for the R&D department of your firm might start and end on zero. The advantages of big data analytics driving targeted customer preferences to suit product development will not be available to us.
The mind blowing presentations that you carry out in style will take a lot of time to get ready. If there was no digital data, you would be depending upon books, magazines and newspapers that themselves depend on digital data. As a result, the trend of creating a spot on presentation with interesting and informative data will not exist anymore.
Sales and Purchase
How much raw material do you need to manufacture 10,000 units of your product? What is your marketing strategy? Oops! You won’t have answer these tactical queries because you do not have data. You do not know where your customers are, because the full service advertising firm you were depending upon to churn out some magic numbers through which you can know your exact target audience cannot bring any info to the table.
You would not be able to calculate the exact amount of liabilities and assets along with the profits your firm made because your favorite accounting partner no longer exists. Your firm will have no idea about the sales and purchase, target audience, assets and liabilities, in short, it is time to pack up the business and go farming. Data analytics will cease to exist because there will be no data to analyse – a Dark Age for data backed future.
So, you have recently hired a bigwig of the IT industry to keep your accounts and confidential information safe within digital vaults, but, there is a problem. If the IT firm do not have data, how will it secure your information? Let us assume that the information you have is the last piece of data you acquired before the world went kaput and data processing stopped. Now, to secure the data you have, you will need more data and the IT firm to which you have paid millions of dollars will be incapable of generating it. In short, all your business ideas, patented products, long kept trade secrets will be open for all.
Automation in this sector is built on the premise of data analytics to power up the degree of servicing and convenience offered to customers. The whole digital transportation system will however, come to an end with the end of data. We will be back to travelling on steam locomotive powered trains that will be controlled by people standing beside tracks with green or red flags. Companies that developed the fantastic signalling system will go out of business and nobody will know where the train is unless it arrives on a station in the absence of alerts on their devices.
Forget trains, what will happen to the Boeings and Airbuses that are somewhere in the stratosphere waiting for a lucky glimpse of the runway. Air Traffic Control will no longer be able to help them in absence of clear coordinates. And since you cannot just throw crumbs of bread mid-air to mark the path to a destination, air travel would be a risky and tricky affair. There goes the concept of ‘The Globe is a Village’ concept out of the window!
If you are one of the premium sports car manufacturers from Europe, your business is about to take a U-turn towards the past because you have been using data driven business intelligence to evolve your products based on the demand of the customers. Today, every car manufacturer uses an Engine Control Unit (ECU) to control the firing pistons and a plethora of technology that uses a small computer to process data inside the car and assist in getting a better and safer driving experience.
Forget about ABS, traction control, ESP or the famous “Hill Descent” mode of modern cars and definitely forget about the current generation of Formula One. There will be a few companies that will not be affected too much because of loss of data because they do not depend on automated machines that much. Rolls-Royce cars are mostly hand-made except the chassis, so they still have a chance to exist. But, again, let’s have a minute of silence for the tech used inside it because ‘no data’ means ‘no tech’.
As mentioned earlier, Google processes 20 PB of data on a daily basis. You can forget big data as there will be no data at all; there will be no Google and other services that are related to the internet. You will not be able to send a copy of an important document to your boss through e-mail when he is sitting in London and you are in India. You cannot fax, call or video chat.
The internet will become redundant with the end of data and the only things humans will be left to do is “hunting and gathering”. Face to face communication will be the only method of interaction possible and you will have no idea about the latest trends in the business world because there will be no data driven Business Intelligence available.
These were just a glimpse of a backward state of affairs of the world without data. You can very well deduce the impact of a world without data; all business models and strategies will dissolve and the business of pawning and bartering will again be prevalent. This will lead to the collapse of economic structure of the world. We will get back to the Renaissance World of 1500s, where a man had to travel thousands of miles to say a single thing to the king of another kingdom. In short, data is the key that opens your business, your brand and your life to a whole new world of opportunities worth benefiting from.
Do write in to us to let us know on this utopian yet interesting take on a world without data.