The Data Mountain*

Why do companies, even big companies with the resources to do so, make so little attempt to organize, analyze, and extrapolate critical information from their archived data?

A good explanation comes from an analogy by George Brock, a former managing editor of The Times of London: Think of a company as a mountain of data to which a thin new layer of topsoil gets added each day or each week. Everybody sees the new soil, but what’s underneath gets covered up and forgotten. Even the people who own the mountain don’t know what’s in the lower layers.

They might try to find out, but that demands a whole new set of tools. And, besides, they are too busy adding the new layer of topsoil each day.

Perhaps the wisest new hire for any long-established company would be a smart, disruptive data analyst. Why just sit on a mountain of valuable data, when you could be digging into it and finding buried treasure?

*Paraphrased from “Net Wisdom” by Robert Cottrell in the Feb.15, 2013 Financial Times