Data Summit 2022 Opening Keynote Makes the Case that Data is Not the New Oil

Data is often described as “the new oil”—a valuable fuel flowing through organizations—and only needs to be captured in order to result in enormous rewards for organizations seeking to leverage it for analytics and AI initiatives.

But it is time to stop talking about data as the new oil and concentrate instead on acting on its true importance. This is the view of Doug Laney author of "Infonomics," who gave the opening keynote talk at Data Summit 2022 in Boston.

Laney who is the Data & Analytics Strategy Innovation Fellow, West Monroe, and a visiting professor at University of Illinois Gies College of Business, discussed how information is and is not an asset.

Calling the oil analogy “tired and inaccurate,” Laney said data is actually far more valuable than oil and that looking at the similarities alone detracts from its value. Both, he said, can be acquired, must be refined, stored, piped, made available to users, fuel business processes, used for products, and spilled—although oil spills can be cleaned up.

But companies that understand the differences are ones that thrive, said Laney. These differences include the fact that oil can be depleted but data cannot. A drop of oil can be used for one purpose, but data can used in a variety of ways, and while oil can be used up, data is a progenitive or regenerative asset that grows and multiplies with use.

Laney urged attendees to take a product management approach to data monetization and be creative in how they achieve value, including looking at elements of other management paradigms for inspiration such as physical asset management, financial asset management, IT service management, and even library services.

In closing Laney said companies should focus on ways to:

  • Monetize your (and others’) data in a variety of ways.
  • Manage data with the same discipline as other assets.
  • Measure and improve your data’s potential and realized value.
  • Understand and take advantage of data’s unique economic characteristics

    Many Data Summit 2022 presentations are available for review at