The Journey of Data — From Handwritten Bookkeeping to The Digital Boardroom — DeCypher DataLabs

Leith Akkawi
Sep 13, 2019 · 4 min read
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Let us go back in time 100 years and imagine our transactional systems. Back then, when an individual would buy furniture or groceries from a store, the owner or clerk would record receipt of money in exchange of the product or service in a handwritten ledger.

Fast forward 100 years, and nothing much has changed in human nature, as people still need to buy furniture and groceries for their homes. However, much did change with the way we conduct transactions.

With the discovery of computing machines and the internet, today we have e-commerce. The applications in e-commerce have made it easier to collect data about all transactions, as now there is a digital record of every item purchased, purchase date, and payment amount.

This moment is when and where data in its digital form was born and created.

For businesses to compete in trade, and accelerate the delivery of their products and services, business owners invested in IT transactional systems to enable their businesses to move at the speed of their competitors — as there were not many choices, adopt using IT or go out of business!

What started as simple computing machines to store transactions mainly between businesses and banks that are connected via the internet, has now become integrated into every aspect of an organization. It did not take much creativity to begin storing inventory data if a business was already storing sales records, as the systems are infinitely scalable to any business application.

Today, every organization leverages the digital transactional system that once originated from using a pen and paper on a notebook. Many industries were created around the topic of data management, including but not limited to accountants, financial advisors, and auditors. A new industry was created and with it many jobs and opportunities.

Researchers, and mainly PhD level academics began to take a closer look at the study of data and data management practices. In their scientific research, academics have been trying to understand patterns of success and failure in businesses based on a company’s data.

This moment is when and where analytics and statistics in its digital form was born and created.

It became ever more important to store data in table formats on servers in data warehouses. Fast forward in the story a bit, and cloud computing was invented, primarily with the leadership of three companies — Microsoft, Amazon, and Google; and within an instance, data collection began to grow exponentially and continues to grow infinitely.

It has never been cheaper or easier to store data for an organization for any purpose. Every department, whether it be human resources or procurement stores data. Every type of organization, whether it be a hospital or an online game can store data. Every type of data is being collected and stored, whether it be a number, character, voice, video, or images… it is all being collected and stored.

This moment is when and where data science was born and created.

This is the journey of data up to date. However, there is a bit of chaos in this story. It seems that data has not found its voice in the Boardroom. It remains a very critical debate between CEO’s and Data Scientists on whom should tell the story, and within that story, who is making the big decisions.

CEO’s have achieved their position after many years of valuable intangible experiences within their careers. CEO’s have a vision they wish the data to support which is why they invested in the digital transactional systems in the first place. CEO’s understand the value of data, but that understanding for some, seems to be a bit upside down.

The reality is that the data does not report to the CEO; while the CEO needs to pay attention to the data because many insights can be discovered from data. For example, if the CEO has a marketing idea to sell luxury watches at scuba diving resorts, while the data reports that those most recently purchasing luxury watches enjoy attending Formula 1 auto racing shows, there obviously is a gap between who informs whom.

In your organization, does the CEO inform the DATA or does the DATA inform the CEO?

This is the journey of data. If data would get its chance to tell the true story of your company, you are almost guaranteed to find success. How couldn’t you find solutions, if you know the truth about the problem? Though, try to shape data into your vision, and your organizations future is a matter of luck. There are many business owners in retail who have denied to listen to the data trends and persist in their ventures without adapting, and today more than ever, retail businesses are filing for bankruptcies.

Originally published at on September 13, 2019.

Leith Akkawi

Written by

Founder & CEO at DeCypher DataLabs LLC

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