Quick update today — the "data proliferation problem" is just a theme I've heard from a lot of conversations recently.

A fellow "data" startup CEO mentioned to me the other day that he lamented just how hard it is to sell "data" and "data services" to people in brands and the enterprise.  Marketing departments have millions of dollars to spend on print advertising that they know does not work… but a modest $100,000 investment to help people understand their data opportunity requires significant explanation and is often met with blank stares.

We're in an odd point in time kinda like we were in with social media in 2007. Evolved enough for people to recognize the promise, but too early for budgets and organizational alignment to have taken place. This does not frustrate me all that much — but it is a growth opportunity for small companies such as ours and a chance or visionary bigger companies to jump out to a quick, early lead.

I have a lot to say on this subject and will follow up here and in some of my guest blogging on how business is evolving. Suffice it to say that winners will be data-driven decision makers. They'll have context about what is important and what is not, and they'll execute well. They will know statistics, business goals/metrics, and they'll understand the interplay between operations, customer data, and their own systems.

Companies will increasingly hire or appoint Chief Data Officers — and not just those in data-intensive businesses either.  A single person and/or office will handle issues related to making data useful and actionable for a business but will also be careful to not expose private data to people who should not see it. It's a tough problem, but a fascinating opportunity.

Deloitte discussed this recently in a fantastic brief paper. I think it was interesting that Alibaba just appointed their former Chief Data Officer as CEO of the entire business. Expect that trend to continue.