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February 27, 2022

Data’s New Paradigm

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It’s not an accident that data is the bedrock of the Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW)  pyramid made famous by Russell Ackoff in 1989. That expresses the shared conviction that data are the basic foundation on which all knowledge is built. 

Except that’s not how data and knowledge work. It’s not even that there’s a more fundamental layer beneath data. Rather, the very shape of the pyramid reinforces a paradigm that has outlived its purpose. A pyramid is too stable, too linear, and way too one-way in its direction. It’s an Industrial Age model in which raw materials—data—are refined and transformed into a usable product.

In an age in which data is increasing exponentially, and our new technology, especially machine learning, can’t get enough of it, we need to flip the pyramid. Then we need to thoroughly rethink what data is, the context we want to use it in, and how to get the most value from it. 

In the old DIKW pyramid, the line between data and information is actually a warehouse—another remnant of the Industrial Age. Data warehouses have served businesses’ predictable needs since the 1950s when the modern idea of data became prevalent in business.

Under this old definition, data are atomic elements of knowledge, siloed according to the department and application that developed them and tagged with metadata that reflected how that data was anticipated to be useful. The value extracted from them after they were delivered was likely to be forever lost

Data’s New Paradigm

Posted by ACASA on February 27, 2022 at 10:37 PM in blog post | Permalink

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