Technology is Great, but Invest in Data

I love technology. I get wowed by amazing new computing platforms, new technology experiences, new ideas about how to interact with machines and computers. I get thoroughly dazzled by how clever people are and how the right group of people can create the most amazing things.

But technology is like the weather in Scotland; wait a few minutes and it will change. The great technology companies really leverage this cycle of change, getting their lusting customer base to buy new products again and again (I count myself among this lustful demographic). But my point here is not that customers are easily coerced into buying the next shiny object, that is a post still to come. The point here is that technology is transient.

Web frameworks change, databases change, technology evolves, continuing to prove Moore’s Law. This is all pretty awesome, yeah?

Yes, but… Every investment you make in technology is also immediately out of date. Think about that. As a decision maker you can’t just wait for the next thing to arrive, you must eventually choose a platform, storage mechanism, or whatever. But, you will be subject to changing trends and disruptive innovation.

However, the actual data you store is different. The data itself being the columns and rows, the documents, the images, the raw 1s and 0s. In this regard, your data is the complete opposite of technology. Every day your data exists it accrues more value. Every day you capture more data, your data’s value also grows. The usefulness of the data is of course contextual and the actual dollar value difference between data sets will vary wildly. In general however, many data points are more useful than only a few. Additionally, a data set which has grown over the last ten years is more useful than one which is only a few hours old. Of course this is subject to the complex idea of scale both in spatial and temporal terms.

In terms of cost-benefit, we are left in an interesting quandary. Perhaps the value of our technology is greater if it allows a greater depth of data to be captured? I will let the economists figure that out. For now, be left with this thought: you will consistently update technology and you will call these ‘investments’, we must do this to stay competitive, in real terms these investments will decrease in time. However the real investment you make will be in your data which will increase in value over time.

Investing in technology is like buying a car; investing in data is like buying a house.