Data is not an asset, it’s a liability

A short blog post that drives home a very important point:

Here’s a hard truth: regardless of the boilerplate in your privacy policy, none of your users have given informed consent to being tracked. Every tracker and beacon script on your web site increases the privacy cost they pay for transacting with you, chipping away at the trust in the relationship.


The all too typical corporate big data strategy boils down to three steps:

  1. Write down all the data
  2. ???
  3. Profit

This never makes sense. You can’t expect the value of data to just appear out of thin air. Data isn’t fissile material. It doesn’t spontaneously reach critical mass and start producing insights.

Which leads to the realization:

Think this way for a while, and you notice a key factor: old data usually isn’t very interesting. You’ll be much more interested in what your users are doing right now than what they were doing a year ago. Sure, spotting trends in historical data might be cool, but in all likelihood it isn’t actionable. Today’s data is.


Actionable insight is an asset. Data is a liability. And old data is a non-performing loan.