Data is the new Oil | India’s way to become a Data-Rich Country
Can India leverage its huge data reserves to pitch in millions of revenue?
Oil is the most important non-essential resource and is the ultimate source of consumable energy. It was in the late 19th century when people around the world started discovering the power of oil, and by the mid 20th century, multiple refineries were set up. Today we are dependent on oil, ~70% of the total oil consumed + imported by the US in 2017 was used for transportation.
Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that oil-rich countries are naturally benefitted from this. ~50% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP comes though crude oil production. No wonder why powerful countries are trying to dominate oil-rich countries like Iran.
Towards the dawn of 21st century, with the rise in technology, many things changed. Today, multiple electric cars have come up that performs equally good. And in the near future, considering the fact that researchers are crazy about green modes of transportation energy, the use of oil for this category will eventually decrease.
What’s the new cool?
3 out of the world’s top 10 valuated companies depend majorly on data for their revenue, research and development. And all of the top 10 leverages data either to optimise their processes or improvise their product.
Let’s have a sneak peek into what an average person’s data actually costs!
The data produced by a person can be used in 3 major ways-
Ad Revenue: Companies like Google and Facebook rely majorly on Ad Revenue, that they try to maximise by personalisation of User’s data. Due to more personalisation, advertisers tend to get more number of views and hence, they are willing to bid a higher amount than direct advertising.
Looking at the 2019 data, US$ 355,784 M was the total revenue from digital advertising worldwide. If we divide it by the total number of internet users, 4.6 B, the average revenue per user comes out to be ~US$ 780 per year. This value varies from country to country and even user to user depending on their total engagement. So, if you are reading (and clapping ;)) this, there are high chances that you are well above this average mark.
Research: Many researchers around the world need specific types of users data to build something novel and even optimise their existing products. Companies like Google have been using our data for driving the motivation for new products and changes. Research data is usually priced at ~US$ 0.8 per GB. Now taking the averages, a typical internet user produces around 55 GBs of data every day that sums up to ~20,000 GBs per year. Hence, overall a user produces ~US$ 16000 worth of research data every year. This whopping value isn’t that exciting yet because we haven’t reached a point where we can collect all of the user’s data precisely.
Hackers: There are thousands of data thieves out there trying to fetch and sell user’s personal data. The type of data ranges from Netflix account details to Driving Licence details, etc., and priced from ~US$ 3 to as high as US$ 1000. There aren’t sufficient metrics available using which we can assess the worth of personal data to the hackers, but considering a lower edge case, we will assume it as ~US$ 200 per person. This data is mostly one time produced as we don’t change our credentials and IDs that frequently.
Summing it up!
~$200(one time): Hackers
As a validation, let us look into the experiment of Federico Zannier. This guy went on to Kickstarter to sell his daily usage data like every webpage he visited, frequent screenshots, logs, photos, etc. for US$ 2 per day. He was hoping to make around US$ 500 per month but, to everyone’s surprise, his earnings for the first month went as high as US$ 2733, which sums up to US$ 32796 per year!
Since the values for research and hackers are ambiguous as of now, I’ll try to focus more on the Ads revenue.
You Oil You Lose!
US, the largest producer of Oil in the world, earned ~US$ 181 billion in 2018 in total revenue from oil. Comparing it with the data, taking into account only the Ads-Revenue, India generated ~US$ 375 billion worth of ads data on average!
Due to the variation in engagement among different groups, the ads revenue per user in India might be comparatively less as compared to the global average, but taking the research worth into account, we can indeed say that — Data is the new oil! And an interesting characteristic of data is that it is reusable. A data collected for the sole purpose of ads generation can be used again and even in different sectors including research.
This also makes us wonder that the “Free services” we are using are actually worth this data. And considering what our data is actually worth, it seems that companies like Apple, who doesn’t use data that much, are technically cheaper than those who charge our data.
With increasing awareness about the environmental disadvantages of oil, and equally good electric alternatives coming up, the use and the value of oil will keep on decreasing. Whereas, with more and more people joining the world of internet every second, the data generation channels have been increasing drastically. On top of it, the fact that the older data can be reused increases it’s worth further.
India, as one of the most populous country, has a very high potential of generating the right amount of revenue from data. Once put through the right acquisition channels, India’s data reserves can indeed contribute decently to the country’s GDP.
P.S.- I have put a lot of effort in researching for this post, show some love by clapping and sharing. If you have any thoughts/clarifications regarding any of the points, please comment or reach me out directly.
About the author
Vishant is an undergrad student at IIT Varanasi. He loves tech and enjoys learning about new technologies and their use cases in various domains. A curious technocrat since childhood, he has worked on various projects involving different technologies like AI, AR, Blockchain, etc. You can find him on LinkedIn. Ohh wait, he loves food too :)
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