When you make a statement as bold as "data is the new oil," you are bound to get equal measures of supporters and naysayers. UK mathematician Clive Humby first made the declaration in 2006, yet lately, authors on websites like Forbes, Fortune, Wired and VentureBeat are planting their flags in support and opposition of Humby's statement:
“Data is the new oil. It's valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc. to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value."
Just to save you some clicking about, suffice it to say that the contrarian arguments that comparing oil to data isn't a fair comparison make the following arguments:
- Data is more a lubricant than like oil, says VentureBeat. It doesn't make the gears spin any faster, for that you need to overhaul the engine. This argument seems to take the comparison too literally. Much like with oil, when you "refine data" with an AI engine, classify it and "bookmark it" for future discoverability, the comparison seems to make perfect sense.
- Data is an inexhaustible resource—while, as we are keenly aware in 2019, there are finite amounts of oil in the oil sands, oceans and other parts of the world. So says Forbes writer Bernard Marr, who has been writing about Big Data and analytics for years now. The fact that there is so much data being produced, published and stored within corporate firewalls and on the public web emphasizes the need for analytics tools to drill down through terabytes of data to extract insights as needed. Unstructured data like what can be found within contracts adds context, while structured data is distilled from documents to understand historical trends and for predictive decision making.
- Data, like oil, will change most industries across the board—in an interview on Fortune.com, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich says Intel customers are using AI for everything from making autonomous cars safer to gathering and processing data from the Internet of Things.
Fifty percent of customers surveyed by Fortune said Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key competitive edge for innovative businesses. Krzanich says AI can assemble and reason through large amounts of data and draw conclusions from it that humans could never achieve. He says in the near future, companies that use AI to make sense of their vast stores of data have a clear competitive edge over those that don't.
AI and unstructured data
Hospitals are using AI to scan MRIs to detect diseases like Alzheimers faster than humans ever can. By programming and using machine learning algorithms to scan images and document text, AI platforms can:
- Classify data and identify relationships between data sets.
- Flag anomalies in document reviews such as non-standard or non-compliant clauses as part of the contract lifecycle management (CLM) process.
- Process natural language (NLP) inputs like a questionnaire to assemble a complex document based on data the AI platform has, in concert with interview questions.
- Parse win-loss statistics and recommend language for proposals or contracts which have the highest propensity to lead to closed revenue.
One of the articles listed above denied that data is like oil because companies own their data and would never sell it through a broker. Yet, like oil, there is a lot of data in the public domain, and more available through shared or paid subscription channels.
Marr agrees data mastery should be conducted to aggregate, monetize and analyze their information assets. Doing so enriches a company's understanding of their customers, prospects, partners, and even their employees.
Is your business looking to drill deeper into your data, increase the productivity of your information workers through contract assembly automation, or better orchestrate your structured and unstructured data repositories?
AI-augmented document and contract management solutions are here. Businesses that adopt them will set industry standards for productivity, profitability and efficiency. Will yours be among them?