By Bryan Kirschner, Vice President, Strategy at DataStax\n\nIs \u201cdealing with data\u201d oriented toward seeking opportunities or avoiding risk in your organization?\nFedEx and Microsoft provide an example of the former, tying up to bring data-driven services for supply chain management to market. \u201cFedex Surround" was created by making a deal to jointly marshal data assets and analytics capabilities..\nOn the flipside, lately we spoke with an IT executive for whom data is more like \u201ca big headache\u201d than \u201cthe new oil.\u201d In the absence of a company data strategy, he said: \u201cI generate one terabyte of data every day. And I don't know what to do with this. So every month, I throw this away, I just delete it.\u201d\nWiping the slate clean is a sure-fire way to avoid compliance risks and reduce storage costs. But it will inexorably carry a larger and larger opportunity cost, because other companies figuring out valuable ways to use data will increase the potential value of their company\u2019s data in the process.\nThis is because data is what economists call \u201cnon-rival.\u201d Unlike a barrel of oil or an hour of human attention, data can be consumed simultaneously, without being diminished. Any number of firms, people, or algorithms can use it at the same time without reducing its availability to others.\nThis spins nested flywheels.\nThe first is a virtuous cycle within a firm. Products enriched through insights from user data get more compelling, attracting more users who generate more data. Netflix, for example, built a great content recommendation engine on user data, and now also uses insights derived from it to create compelling original content.\nThe second is the increasing odds of a valuable \u201cmatch\u201d between firms. T-Mobile aims to differentiate by knowing their customers \u201cbetter than any company in our space,\u201d in their CEO\u2019s words.\u00a0 In much the same way that Netflix delighted us by surfacing shows we\u2019d enjoy, T-Mobile promises to match customers with \u201cfree stuff and great deals from brands you love\u201d on \u201cT-Mo Tuesdays.\u201d\nNow, through a deal that makes sense between two companies that are committed to excellence at data-driven customer intimacy as a core value proposition, some T-Mobile subscribers can stream Netflix at no extra cost.\nLooking ahead, every dataset (or insights derived from it) will have a greater likelihood of finding a valuable \u201cmash up\u201d with others.\nThe third flywheel is \u201cmore data expands what can be done with data.\u201d This might include, for example, a new degree of accuracy in prediction or level of efficiency in optimization.\nFueling this, data exchanges are making a business facilitating access to aggregations that otherwise would not exist or would be off-limits due to regulation. Companies like Waymo are choosing to open datasets and offer prizes for innovation that may have not been possible within the firm\u2019s boundaries.\nYour company\u2019s data culture and architecture must, of necessity, manage risk. But both should also embrace conviction that \u201cdealing with data\u201d will increasingly mean \u201cmaking deals\u201d to create shared value propositions, fill gaps, and make AI smarter than it otherwise would be.\n\nAbout Bryan Kirschner:\n\nBryan is Vice President, Strategy at DataStax. For more than 20 years he has helped large organizations build and execute strategy when they are seeking new ways forward and a future materially different from their past. He specializes in removing fear, uncertainty, and doubt from strategic decision-making through empirical data and market sensing.