Unleashing the Power of Data: 9 Stories of Triumph and Caution From The World Leaders in Data

Sven Balnojan
6 min readNov 1, 2023
By Sven Balnojan. There are two sides; don’t pretend there is only one.

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge … is the only guardian of true liberty.” — James Madison

Some people think data is all there is and that it will dominate the future of our world. Some think data isn’t that important after all, and that change will happen slowly.

The truth is change is already here. Our lives are already powered by data in every single aspect. Traditional companies started to be transformed by data 50 years ago, only a few industries are yet untouched.

Politics is dominated by data analysis, voter profiling, and automated campaigns.

But data is a potent force, as such it can be both, very beneficial and truly detrimental at the same time.

Here are nine stories from the world's leading companies in data illustrating this dual-edged sword.

As oil powered the previous century, data powers this one, everywhere. In 2016 we knew that data was important, but we didn’t really know what it was capable of. One single data-focused company changed that Cambridge Analytica. Using advanced data harvesting based on Facebook and psychographic profiling, Cambridge Analytics allegedly was a significant power in both the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and the Brexit campaign. It’s something that sounds like it only works on paper, creates a model for people, and then uses data to automate everything and execute. And yet, we’re at a point where data can do just that. No matter the extent of the actual influence of this one company in these campaigns, data did power two vast waves of change. Data is powerful, no matter where. There is no space untouched; but you might not know about it yet.

Just because data can be obtained and used, doesn’t always mean it should. In 2015 Google DeepMind entered into a data sharing agreement with the UK National Health Service. The basic idea was to use the data to improve the detection of acute kidney injury and general patient deterioration. Sounds like a plan, right? However, this data-sharing agreement is still debated and went into court. Just because it sounds like a good idea, and you can get the data…

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Sven Balnojan

Head of Marketing @ Arch | Data PM | “Data Mesh in Action” | Join my free data newsletters at http://thdpth.com/ and http://finishslime.com