I recently finished reading In the Plex, which is a great look inside Google and how they operate. For a company that has had so much secrecy around it’s internal workings, this was an amazing look at how the company operates. If you’re interested in Google, or even in how a technology company might grow and operate, or even just curious about the decisions that might affect our lives with regard to digital information, this is an interesting book to read.
There are lots of things to talk about in there, but one thing in particular seemed to stand out to me. I n many cases, the justification for getting some project approved, or moving forward, is different than in many companies. It’s not the personal relationship with the person in charge, or because it seems like a good idea, but because the data matters. That’s a quote used quite often in the book.
Those of us that work as data professionals know that data is important. We spend lots of time and effort to cleanse, standardize, and organize data in a way that allows it to be used as information for better decisions. That’s the fundamental idea behind business intelligence and data warehousing: extracting information from data and using it to run your business better.
However I suspect that many companies don’t have management that really understands or truly appreciates the value of the data stored. They don’t often devote the resources, especially time, to allows data professionals to build better systems that people can use. We struggle to purchase enough storage and struggle to make writing better T-SQL or tuning the systems a priority. Most importantly, we often don’t have the time to spend just working with data in different ways to try and build patterns.
Data is important, but without having the ability to turn it into information, most of that value remains locked away.