Our Industry

Data is the New Oil

By Jimmy Sneed


This phrase was coined in 2006 by British mathematician Clive Humby and is something we have been hearing since.  There are a lot of similarities between the emergence of oil with the first oil well in 1859 and the emergence of data since the launch of the internet in 1983.  Oil in its natural and unrefined state is valuable, but when refined into gasoline, fuel oil, etc. it has become arguably the most valuable asset on the planet.  As with oil, all data is valuable, but once processed and delivered it becomes much more valuable.

We are in the very early stages of data and its delivery to the world. We are experiencing many of the challenges today that the oil industry went through a century ago. Since Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in 1859 the oil industry has perfected the extraction, refining, and delivery of its products. One way that we know this to be true is that when there is an accident it is worldwide news. For example, the underwater pipeline breach off Huntington Beach, CA in 2021 (~$150M) was huge news worldwide.

We experience data breaches of this magnitude as many as 2-3 times per day. According to IBM and the Ponemon Institute’s latest data breach report, the average cost of a data breach in 2021 was $4.24M which was 10% higher than the $3.86M cost in 2020. Due to the rapid rise of cybercrime around the world, the cost of data breaches is expected to peak at $6 trillion annually.

As we continue down the path of renewable and sustainable energy, oil will most likely become less valuable while data will continue to drive our economies. Over the next several years the challenge will be to design more security data handling systems. Consulting with an engineer with the proper experience can ensure your critical facilities keep your data secured by recommending a design that best fits your needs.

Be sure to come back next week for my second post in this series where I will talk about energy and data handling. I am also always happy to discuss and expand on these topics. Please reach out to me here.