The New Data Rush

How Business Analytics Can Transform Unused Internal Data Into Treasure

If data really is the “New Gold", then many companies may be sitting on a hidden goldmine without being able to take advantage of the opportunity. Unfortunately, recognizing the existence of a goldmine does not simultaneously give you the ability to extract value from it. Striking gold in the information age requires the following process.


For years, industry analysts and writers have proclaimed data to be the “new oil” or “new gold”. This connection recognizes data as an extremely valuable commodity, but like the California gold rush of the 1800s, the value of data isn’t realized until it is extracted using the right tools and methods.


The tools required to extract or “mine the gold” of today must include robust analytics capabilities that are able to scale and handle all unstructured data across the enterprise. As much as 90% of all data worldwide is unstructured data and grows at a rate of 55 to 65 percent annually. For many organizations, much of that data is not being harnessed to create value. A Forbes article clarifies this dilemma,

Unstructured data can’t be easily stored in a traditional column-row database or spreadsheet like a Microsoft Excel table. It’s therefore more difficult to analyse and not easily searchable, which is why it wasn’t useful for organizations until recent years.


Following the extraction step, the actual value of the gold had to be carefully calculated. Just as much of the gold that was mined in the 1800s wasn’t completely pure, the data contained within an organization needs to be filtered to create the most useful descriptive analytics (or business intelligence). Using the Gartner definition we can begin to understand why this is important,

Descriptive Analytics is the examination of data or content, usually manually performed, to answer the question “What happened?” (or What is happening?), characterized by traditional business intelligence (BI) and visualizations such as pie charts, bar charts, line graphs, tables, or generated narratives.


Finally, to fully realize the value of gold, it is simply spent and used as currency. To fully realize the value of the data, it is “spent” as a prescriptive measure, guiding future decisions and actions. Referring again to Gartner’s glossary for business analytics,

Business analytics is comprised of solutions used to build analysis models and simulations to create scenarios, understand realities and predict future states. Business analytics includes data mining, predictive analytics, applied analytics and statistics, and is delivered as an application suitable for a business user.


The California Gold Rush lasted less than 7 total years, but totaled over 7 billion in today’s dollars. This outlines how rushes like these can be both fleeting and lucrative for those willing to take advantage of the opportunities available. With the right tools and methods, organizations willing to mine their internal data for future benefit will stand to gain the most.

Rafael Walden is a graduate of Portland State University and current solutions consultant at ZL Tech.