Sustainability and Data

Me engaging the CEO of

Sustainability and Data

Over the course of the weekend, I had the opportunity of attending a Data Hack event at Nigeria’s tech heartbeat and the most preferred location for a tech startup in Nigeria…Yaba.

It was an educating and inspiring get-together where young and enthusiastic individuals discussed the future of data and how upcoming entrepreneurs can leverage it. The organisers, Afrika Data Place — a digital marketplace that connects providers and consumers of data sets and data streams ensuring quality, consistency, and security. In attendance was executives from BudgIT and several other companies who have leveraged proper data collection and management to maximise effective decision making and a concomitant increase in shareholder’s value. BudgIT changed the face of Nigeria budget interpretation process simply by leveraging already made data and using infographics and plain languages to demystify the bulky and confusing budget, which hitherto, no one was interested in reading. The Nigerian budget currently has more than 2000 pages with confusing figures and projections. These reflect what one can actually do with data and the relative importance that it plays in the development and growth of a company or country. Information not simplified is information not worth sharing.

My take home from the event

· Most companies don’t value data management

· Companies like Amazon, Tesla and Microsoft are alive today because of the quality of data that they have.

· Data is the new oil

· One can actually disrupt an entire industry if data is properly exploited

· All industries depend on data for its survival.

· Most companies sit on a large chunk of useful data without knowing.

· You can make money just from collecting and making sense out of data.

· Data integrity and consistency is paramount for effective decision making.

· We should leverage small data first before speaking about big data

· There are several loopholes in Nigeria when it comes to data mining

· Data can influence investment decisions, so why not make it available to all?

· We still lack data in Nigeria. Institutions, corporate bodies, etc. should leverage data to communicate only relevant information that is specific to a customer.

The conversation around data was a lengthy one, as different professionals tried to make sense out of its relevance. I tried making a case out of data analysis being the real oil and not data itself, as refinery gave sense to the whole crude oil brouhaha. Well, I saw a new perspective to that as I was quickly contemporised by the CEO of ADP (Quadry Olalekan) that data itself is the real oil. Also, I was astonished when I realised that there are a lot of resources that we’ve been neglecting when it comes to how important data can be. I really have not seen where an investment decision has been made without consulting a company’s data bank. The quality and consistency of the data will determine the direction which the investment will flow.

So what is Afrika Data Place trying to achieve with their solution?. It will interest you to know that their bespoke solution aims at creating a Data Bank, here, individuals and companies can trade data. In fact, I had a look at their twitter handle and it reads ‘We are a marketplace to buy and sell data. ADT is an open platform allowing anyone to sell any type of data’. As at the time of writing this article, information on their website stipulates that they will be kicking off operation sometime in July, 2017. So you might want to sign up on their website to have a first-hand view of what they have to offer as soon as they launch.

Data and sustainability…

As always, I looked at the relationship between sustainability and data, and it was mind-blowing to discover that everything about sustainability came from effective analysis of data. A company whose data is inconsistent and incoherent can never be poised towards achieving its sustainability milestones. Bringing it to a level we all can relate with, imagine travelling to a known destination with a wrong map. That is how an inaccurate data can be so detrimental to a decision maker.

Another way to look at this; Imagine business success and sustainability as a spectrum, and sustainability is at the centre. The less you know about your data, the less sustainable you are or can be. But if an effective data integrity is ensured, then the business is driving towards a sustainability goldmine.

Bringing it all together…

Smart companies are leveraging data in their possession and constantly looking for how best to tackle sustainable issues. The knowledge you have about the quality of the data in possession can affect certain decisions e.g. divestment in assets that are in conflict with sustainability. Individuals can also leverage data mining in their respective environment, as a company like Afrika Data Place will be willing to buy them — if proven to be valuable.

If data, as they say, is the new oil then sustainability is a viable bloc ready for exploration.

Thank you for reading!

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