The New Oil – Data or Water?

There is much discussion lately surrounding data and water becoming the “new oil.” Recently I wrote about the rise of data and how the quants in advertising / marketing have become the most powerful players in the business. However, the case can also be made that water may be the most dominant issue we face in the coming years.

I’ve always had a strong connection with water. Growing up, my uncle in Montana was a dowser. Whether it actually worked or not, I don’t remember, but, I do know he was regularly hired to take his divining rod out to his client’s cattle ranches to locate a water source. My ancestry is full of ship captains and I’ve always tried to live in close proximity to a body of water. Now, I live and work in Milwaukee, lately referred to as the “Silicon Valley of Water.” I guess you can say that I have water on the brain.

While we live in the Great Lakes (21% of the world’s freshwater) and it may feel as if we have an endless supply of water, we are in the midst of a global freshwater crisis. The world’s rivers, lakes, and aquifers are shrinking faster than Mother Nature can replenish them and to make matters worse, much of what is left is being polluted. As the global population continues to skyrocket our water consumption is doubling every 20 years, and the United Nations expects demand to outstrip supply by more than 30 percent come 2040.

The simple fact is that without water, the earth’s ecosystems will collapse. Water is a resource that needs to be handled with the utmost care and new technological developments will be required if we hope to meet the growing demand. I’m proud to say that Milwaukee has become recognized as the world hub for water research, education and economic development. Thanks to the work of The Water Council, Milwaukee has become a magnet that attracts the creative talent and innovative ideas required to be the world leader in water management.

It is fitting that since the heyday of the beer business, no other industry in Milwaukee has generated this level excitement, collaboration and potential for growth. Here at B + L we look forward to working with The Water Council and the many other water related companies who locate here to deliver the message of water management and conservation. What oil is to Houston will be what water is to Milwaukee.