June 17, 2020

Data Darwinism

Chetan Chandavarkar

Topic:   Data

Company Life Expectancy and the Future of Data

The life expectancy of a company in the 1950s was 60 years, and pre-pandemic Credit Suisse reported the average life expectancy of an S&P 500 company was under 20 years.1

In 2020 that number will undoubtedly face a catastrophic nosedive, especially for smaller companies.

Data has a huge role to play in how companies will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This blog is not about COVID 19. COVID-19 is a global crisis that is profoundly changing the way we live and work. Many businesses are struggling, and some industries have been affected by the economic shutdown more than others. Yet some companies are thriving.

The future of all companies, I would argue, depends on their nuanced understanding of the role of data in being adaptive and agile, accommodating sudden shifts that will arise.

Investment in Data – The Darwin Theory for Business

We are all familiar with Darwinism, “the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase an individual’s ability to compete, survive and reproduce.”

The future of data is the new Darwin theory at lightspeed.

When to Spend and When to Cut

When economic hardships hit, or when an organization faces challenges beyond their control, the first action is often to cut spending. Being prudent and making informed and potentially frugal decisions are essential. But, it’s important not to overreact. The business will need new types of analytics for more in-depth insights to help understand opportunities. And those insights – automated, real-time, predictive, and prescriptive – will help the company not only survive but thrive.

For me, this is an example of “data Darwinism.”

Data – The Golden Age is Now

The real value of data means something different to different stakeholders across an organization. To get the focus, you can usually start by asking some of the following questions, “what happens if we don’t?” or “how will we be affected by a missed opportunity?” or “why did we lose those customers or that big sale?”. Not investing in data or developing a robust data management infrastructure that supports business decision making and overall business outcomes will eventually leave your company behind your competitors, if it hasn’t already.

Data management is no longer a “like to have” option; it’s a “must-have.” Without it, your company will be left behind and struggle to take advantage of new technologies, remain competitive, and drive that digital transformation.

Data has a critical role to play in the future across every dimension, and the companies that invest in data will not only survive but thrive. Now is the golden age to make the most of your data.


1 Sheetz, Michael. “Technology Killing off Corporate America: Average Life Span of Companies under 20 Years.” CNBC, 24 Aug. 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/08/24/technology-killing-off-corporations-average-lifespan-of-company-under-20-years.html.

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