Data has become an all pervasive aspect of our lives

From the moment we wake up, data plays a role in our daily life.  It has become such an all-pervasive aspect of our lives that we often don’t realise just how far data has penetrated almost every aspect of business, government and society.

Data in our personal life

As you follow this learning path, you are surrounded by technologies that may be monitoring where you are, what you are doing and how you spend your time!

We have become accustomed to working with desktop or laptop computers but these have been supplemented by tablets/iPads which can be used anywhere/anytime and on the move and we now have many wearable devices such as smart watches.  It is quite common for a business manager to have four devices with them during the day – laptop, tablet, one or even two smartphones (private and business) and then possibly also a smartwatch.

Consider the average smartphone – it is with you 24 hours a day, most likely no more than 1m away from you. You unlock it to look at the screen on average more than 100 times in a 24 hour period. It will support a range of apps – typically 20 to 50 for an average user. Each of these apps can be tracking you and sharing your information with other parties. That is why e.g. weather apps are “free”.

As a consumer, you have become accustomed to using the smartphone or the laptop to search for and find information on holidays, products, services, suppliers and any other topic of interest. Unless you have taken precautions, all of these interactions have been recorded and used to create a “digital twin” of you, your profile, your needs and behaviours and possibly even your health status.

Data in our business and professional life

Data has become a key asset in business for many reasons – some quite basic and others more strategic. Data plays a role in each of these factors:

  • Marketing products or services to clients who may be interested in them
  • Pricing and specifying products to align with a customer’s needs or risk profile
  • Operationally delivering a service in line with agreed terms
  • Generating a correct invoice at the correct time
  • Recording both operational and financial performance
  • Reporting on our activities to financial, fiscal or regulatory bodies.

Consumers, business clients, business partners, suppliers and regulatory bodies now assume that companies are competent in their management of data!

Data in society and the environment around us

When we step back and consider the current economic, political and environmental situation in our world we can no longer be blind to the changes taking place and the impact that data has.

In many geopolitical situations, the use of data, the acceptance of facts and the actions taken based upon data are at the core of the issue:

  • Global warming
    Data has been used to construct predictions of global warming by scientists around the world. Our current weather anomalies can be explained from this and yet the data is fiercely contented by both sceptics and activists alike.
  • Data in modern warfare
    When politicians can no longer resolve disputes on peaceful terms, a war or military conflict can break out. We need look no further than the war in Ukraine to see the enormous role that data can play in a military and geo-political context – both on the battlefield and in propaganda.
  • Social media and the question of “truth”
    Humankind evolved above other species through our ability to share knowledge and learn from previous experience. We developed education and scientific methods of proving what was true, based upon evidence and facts. This could be shared via writing in books and later in electronic media. Now we have social media, fake news and internet and the rise of ‘fact checking’ as we discover that what is written is not always true!
  • Trust in what we see and hear?
    Given our dependence upon information, there are many developments to ensure that what we see, read or perceive is actually true. Are we dealing with a bona-fide counterpart? is the website a scam? are the ‘facts’ actually true and representative? We can observe the rise of platforms which add value just by authenticating that what we see is actually true – such as the product passports on international trading platforms using tokenisation and blockchain.

In summary, data has already become an all pervasive aspect of our personal and business lives.