Data are everywhere. The more we learn about life ... about almost anything ... we learn that there is a data component that makes life work. The brain is all about data ...
When the post industrial age was named the information age some decades ago ... perhaps around 1970 ... there was little appreciation of what role information ... data ... played in the functioning of everything.
Compared to what is possible modern institutional management uses data systems that can best be described as stone age, or at best, medieval. The purpose of data is to make it possible to manage well ... for operations to be efficient and effective, and for knowledge to be accumulated. For this data are needed about what is going on ... timely ... accurate ... relevant.
Data are the raw material for management information and the development of knowledge. Data have no purpose unless they are used in some productive way, unless they are part of an integrated system.
While data are everywhere ... very little of the data are used usefully. There is a vast incentive to use data to “prove a point” rather than for the data to be used to further understanding. Data are used in this manner in large part because there are incentives that encourage use of data in such a manner.