Data is the new natural resource

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The planet is changing through the use of technology.

So said Jon Iwata, IBM's senior VP of communication and marketing, speaking at the recent IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference, in Las Vegas.

Iwata said technology is no longer just about running programs and storing data, but is now contributing to a company's core mission. To do this, companies, cities and industries need to implement instrumentation.

"But what do we mean by instruments?" asked Iwata. "One instrument we all have is a mobile phone." He also mentioned the proliferation of other sorts of instruments that help gather data, such as digital cameras, sensors and RFID tags.

"This instrumentation of the planet is pervasive; it's happening," he said. "We are embedding what we used to think of as computers into the systems and infrastructure of the world."

However, now that all this data is being generated, it needs to be collected and analysed. He said the nature of data is changing, not just in volume, but also in variety. Much information generated today is unstructured, and often untrustworthy, said Iwata. "Data is the new natural resource," he claimed.

The ability to tap into unstructured and previously unexplored data sources is allowing IBM to approach new customers, said Iwata. "Ten years ago, would we have called mayors? Police chiefs?" He said the company's dealings with clients such as the police force would have primarily been for payroll or backend services. But now, the company has helped implement systems to help a police department in America use analytics to predict, and therefore prevent, crime.

He also mentioned that a power company in Taiwan has implemented an IBM system that allows it to sample power meters every 15 minutes, as opposed to once a month.

This means companies will have to start seeing their clients as individuals, instead of segmenting groups of the population based on shared characteristics.

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