Lots of people have been saying that “data is the new oil”. Data flows through networks, powers applications, lubricates markets – the analogy makes perfect sense. But it occurred to me recently that data is also taking on a more structural feel. Instead of data being simply a flow, it’s feeling more like a foundation. My favorite example is Zynga which was built on top of Facebook which was built on top of you and me. Personal data is the oil for Facebook, but Facebook data was the steel for Zynga. It’s the resource they used to build their business. Twilio data was the steel which GroupMe used to build its application. There are many examples.
Data is the new steel.
I like the analogy because it helps me think about concepts like Big Data in new ways. It helps me recognize that analytics are not the only useful applications when confronted with massive data quantities. John D became the richest man in history peddling oil. But the #2 guy didn’t do too badly either. His name was Andrew Carnegie and he was all about steel. I’ll write more about this theme in the coming days.