Back in the nineteenth century, thousands of prospectors from all over the US rushed to California to find their fortune. Gold, the papers reported, was spouting from the very ground itself. And there were opportunities for anyone and everyone to get rich.

Of course, as soon as the word got out, the surface gold disappeared fast, and entire towns disbanded. But it was an interesting episode in business history. It showed the lengths that entrepreneurs were willing to go to to get their rewards and an example of the human spirit and the drive for success.

Gold is still precious today, of course, but we’re unlikely to see a repeat of the nineteenth century. All the low-hanging fruit has already been harvested.

The closest thing we have to gold in the 21st century is data on customer demographics and preferences.

This type of data is fast becoming the currency of business and the main driver of their value. If you look at the top-valued firms on the S&P, you soon realize that the majority made their fortunes by collecting information about their customers and target market. Google, for instance – the second most valuable company in the world, built its wealth by collecting search data. Facebook, likewise, created a multi-hundred-billion dollar market cap by getting people to type in their interests, work, and preferences.

Data, therefore, is a kind of new gold. But the rush to collect it has gone on behind closed doors, with practically nobody noticing – except those in control of it. It’s meant that the dynamics of the rush have been very different. A few people who understand the value of this new gold have enjoyed all the profits while everyone else continues, pretty much oblivious.

The Rising Importance Of Data On Mainstreet

With that said, the rest of the economy is now slowly waking up to the idea that the more information that you have, the better the decisions you can make. The idea is filtering down from the Silicon Valley tech giants and towards the average firm.

Regular companies are now worried about issues such as backing up their data and finding the cheapest VPS in a way that they weren’t in the past. It is a sign that we’re moving to a new type of economy. The aim is to find out as much about your customers as possible.

The tools to make this happen are already in place. Most companies can plug into third-party solutions for most of their needs. It’s just a matter of setting them up. Once they do that, then they will be able to get the data they need to serve their customers better. No longer will they have to guess what they want. Instead, they’ll be able to provide them with appropriate marketing material and products in a way that respects their time and needs.

If you run a business, think carefully about how you might deploy the data you collect to improve your operations. Could you use it to serve customers better?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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