Data Usefulness and Trustworthiness
Information systems and, more or less a synonym, information technology are less about technology and more about "information," broadly defined. There is of course transactional data, textual data, multi-media data, and application and operating system level software, software itself being data. Whether the data is useful, trustworthy and appropriately available depends on many things going right.
The "information system" operates within an epistemology that we have defined, with the objective of better adapting ourselves to the greater world outside. The world outside of course operates within its own epistemology, and one of our fundamental objectives is to align IT with reality.
Payoff is in being able to use the data, and prerequisites for its use are availability and trust. We need to understand enough about the data to make use of it, and we have to trust the data enough to rely on it. If those prerequisites are met, we are in a position to generate value from all that data by turning it into feedback, decisions, and instruction.
"Understanding" the data has a lot to do with "metadata" - information describing data, and with metadata regarding data "in motion" between systems increasingly being described using XML (eXtended Markup Language). See www.XMLoptimization.com for more about XML and its relationship to the epistemology and ontology of an information system.
Simplifying the data has to do with a "back to basics" approach, because we have created a thicket of "synthetic" data that needs pruning. See bucket reduction for that aspect of the data story.