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What is Data?

Data is a collection of information.

It is all around us.

The first use of data goes back to 19000 BC with our Paleolithic ancestors. They used a bone from a baboon to perform simple calculations.

In the mid 1600's, John Graunt, known as 'The Father of Public Health Statistics' collected information on the deaths in London, recording the number of deaths, the mortality rate amount age groups and the cause of death. He was the first person to record and use data analysis, revolutionizing how we use medical data today. He indexed and cataloged his data storing information in tables and use the information to predict life expectancy. London started to use his reporting to better prepare the city for a possible plague outbreak.

In the late 1800's, German-American statistician, Herman Hollerith observed a train conductor punching passenger train tickets. From that, he designed a tabulation machine that used punch cards. This is how the concept of using key punch cards and processing data was born. A punch card is a heavy-weight paper that is used by a machine to punch out holes in specific locations on the card. The cards are moved through the machine where the data can be read. It was a breakthrough in data collection and efficiency. In the 1880's, the US government used this system to complete the US census.

Today we can collect and have access to large volumes of data. The Internet has given rise to Big Data where hyperlinks make it easy to share and connect info. With Google's arrival in 1997, data became available to everyone around the globe. Data will continue to evolve and technology continue to provide innovations like AI transforming the way we see and relate to the world around us.

Managing and Analyzing data can come as a challenge to organizations.  Businesses need to capture information about their customers, their products and services, and their day to day business activities.  Data can be structured in relational databases and data can be unstructured in documents, videos, pictures, service records, etc.  In order to make this information and data useful, data sources should be independently managed.  Your data needs is the opportunity and the challenge for Forr's Data Services and how we can best capture, manage and analyze the data to fit your organization's needs.

Building a successful data structure begins with capture, organization, integration and analysis.  If your organization has the collected the right data, and has the technology put into place, you can use the information to assist in solving business problems, react to situations, analyze patterns and change your response such as improving customer satisfaction, manage traffic, prevent failures, and enhance the quality of your services.


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