Data Economy unfolding - Part I: classic economy

In classical economy value is rooted in raw materials, in the transformation process and in the supply/delivery chains

Since the birth of humankind societies economic value has been an important driver. This value started to be associated with raw materials (by extension one can consider food as a sort of raw material) and once the processes to deal with these raw materials to transform them into usable goods became sophisticated and required specific skills and investment the value shifted to manufacturing (the industrial revolution). This did not mean that raw materials were no longer important, it just meant that the balance of "power" shifted to those Countries, and industries, that had the best manufacturing capabilities. 

It took many centuries, millennia actually, for this shift from raw materials to production to take place. It took much less for the emergence of supply and value chains as a value overshadowing manufacturing. Today the supply and distribution chains are possibly the most complex structures we have created, spanning the world and enabling/fostering offshoring of manufacturing and distributed production.

Again, the crucial importance of the supply/distribution chains does not mean that manufacturing/raw materials are no longer important. They simply add on.

In the last fifty years ICT has become a fundamental tool in all these three areas (even mining/harvesting raw materials require quite a bit of ICT), although it is clear that modern supply/distribution chains simply could not exist without ICT.

ICT is present in manufacturing in the order entry, project management, CAD/CAM and robots, just to mention the main application areas that are part of manufacturing processes. Additionally, many products are today a blend of hardware and software, including our washing machine...

However it is just in the last decades that bits have moved to the centerstage, seeding and then fuelling the data economy.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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