The value of data is falling


What is the capital of Venezuela? Well that depends on how old you are. If you are my age the answer is probably “Oh, I must remember to look that up sometime”. If you are young the answer is “Hang on a sec, I’ll Google it”. The point is of course that the new generation of internet users has access at any time to virtually all knowledge….free.

A professional advisory firm makes its living out of providing knowledge for which it can charge no more than market value. The scary thing for most of us advisers at the moment is that the value of data is falling; and to be more precise the value of most of that data is nil! So how do honest accountants like us now make a living?

The stock answer is that professional advisers should dispense wisdom (be advisers!) in future not just provide technical data as we have always done. Who knows, perhaps the whole profession will escape its reputation for dullness as a result?

The interesting thing, going back to the 14 year olds of this world is what effect such access to knowledge will have on them all. Because all knowledge can be accessed instantly there may be no need to store it in future. Perhaps we might end up less prejudiced in our thinking given that new information will always be instantly available on any topic to disturb previously held opinions. Or perhaps our ability to pass wise judgement, based on our past experiences, will be damaged as our beliefs are continually influenced by new data. Who knows? Perhaps I had better look that up too.

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Christopher co-founded Wingrave Yeats in 1983. 
His speciality is strategic advice to professional services firms and also growing businesses: how to manage growth and how change affects financial reporting systems and controls, people management, profitability and cash flow. He heads up the media team at Wingrave Yeats and has had extensive experience in dealing with banks on behalf of his clients and also in 'turnarounds.' Christopher is a non executive director of Think London and he writes extensively for the business press and has been a regular contributor to Real Business and Growing Business magazines.