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Data as a Business Asset

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7 minutes

Publish Date



Dvorah Graeser

Data as a Business Asset: Unlocking the Value of Your Company's Information

Is data a standalone business asset? You know that your business can’t operate without data. No doubt you’ve heard the quote “Data is the new oil” (more on that below). But despite all that, you may wonder if data is valuable to anyone else. In other words - what makes data an asset?

Why Data is an Asset

Data is undeniably an asset for any company, but particularly for experienced companies in well established industries. In many cases, it stands as a form of intellectual property that can provide a significant competitive advantage. Here’s why data qualifies as a valuable business asset:

1. Economic Value: Data can generate economic value in multiple ways. Companies can monetize data directly by selling it or offering insights derived from it. Additionally, data enables better decision-making and innovation, all of which contribute to a company's profitability and efficiency.

2. Investment of Resources: Collecting, processing, and analyzing data requires substantial investment of resources such as money, time, and expertise. This investment turns raw data into a refined asset that can drive strategic business decisions.

3. Strong Customer Relationships: By leveraging market data, competitor analysis, and customer data, companies can personalize offerings, target marketing efforts precisely, and build stronger customer relationships.

And of course, data can be used to train AI - more on that below. 

Data as Intellectual Property

Data can be considered a form of intellectual property, specifically a trade secret, if it meets certain criteria:

1. Exclusivity: The data is not generally known or readily ascertainable by others. Proprietary data that a company has exclusively collected or generated meets this requirement.

2. Economic Value: The data derives independent economic value from not being publicly known. For instance, customer databases or unique research data can provide significant competitive advantages if kept confidential.

3. Secrecy Measures: The company makes reasonable efforts to maintain the data's secrecy. This includes implementing data security measures and limiting access to sensitive information.

While not all data qualifies as a trade secret, proprietary data that is well-protected and provides a competitive edge can indeed be considered a valuable form of intellectual property.

Examples of Trade Secret Data

Some examples of data that could qualify as trade secrets include:

  • Customer databases

  • Research data

  • Algorithms

  • Analytics models

  • Market intelligence unique to the company


Data as the New Oil?

The phrase "data is the new oil" is widely attributed to Clive Humby, a British mathematician and data scientist. His exact quote was:

"Data is the new oil. It's valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be broken down, analyzed for it to have value."

Much like oil, raw data itself is not inherently valuable. Its value is unlocked through processes that refine and analyze it, transforming it into actionable insights that drive business value.

Realizing the Value of Your Data

For business owners in traditional industries, it’s crucial to recognize the untapped potential of your data. By leveraging data for training AI models, automating processes, and making data-driven decisions, you can enhance operational efficiency, innovate your offerings, and ultimately drive growth.

Data as Rocket Fuel

Data can serve as rocket fuel for AI by providing the essential foundation on which artificial intelligence systems learn, adapt, and make decisions. High-quality, diverse datasets are crucial for training machine learning models, enabling them to recognize patterns, predict outcomes, and improve over time. A number of high profile sales of data to generative AI companies have already been made. Specialty data could command a premium price - for the right customer. 

Future of Data

Data is more than just a byproduct of business operations; it is a critical asset that can provide significant competitive advantages. By treating data as a valuable asset, protecting it as intellectual property, and refining it to extract meaningful insights, companies can unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation. Embrace the power of data and discover how it can make your business into a more efficient and competitive player in the market.

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