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Industries & Expertise

Data Discovery and Organisational Memory

Our consultants can share their expertise in data discovery and organisational memory to help clients in the public and private sectors (including defence, energy, construction, professional services, civil services) to enhance their future project planning.


The future of work, memory decay, data discovery.

Digital disruption, mergers and acquisitions, rapid staff turnover, data deterioration and related factors have been damaging the organisational memory of large organisations to the extent that their ability to produce effective long-term projects is hampered.

Often a hitherto-unidentified problem, memory decay has led to multi-decade, multi-billion projects surviving on a corporate memory of five years or less.

In short, big projects need better data and better thinking. But this data is hard to discover, particularly in a short timeframe.


Dr Michael Weatherburn, Field Leader: Humanities and Social Sciences - drawing upon his formal academic research and teaching, Dr Weatherburn has worked with clients on aspects on future strategy design such as the future of work, manpower planning, and long-horizon project management - plus policy development, project planning, and preparing for upcoming legal cases.

His work involves resolving multi-sectoral issues such as...

  • Data baselines require generation or enhancement.
  • Scenario planning and forecasting needs better evidence.
  • Lessons learned need to be recovered and implemented.
  • Staff need training in long-term thinking and working.


Examples include...Project Hindsight programme.

1. The smoking gun. A year-long archive data and reporting project with a global law firm. Our work fed into case preparation and influenced the final outcome. Click here for the full case study.

2. Information overload. A research-intensive policy project with Resolution Foundation, a think tank. In an atmosphere of potentially exaggerated policy claims, we helped clarify their thought leadership in the areas of digital transformation, work productivity and national wage policy. Click here for the full case study.


Speaking engagements:

Cabinet Office, UK Power Networks, Chartered Institute of Management, Tavistock Institute, Open Data Institute, London Materials Society, Imperial College, Oxford University, Oxford University Saïd Business School, Oxford Brookes University, Hong Kong University, Exeter University Business School.



Read:M. Weatherburn, The Real Future Shock: Analogue Thinking and Working (2018) here.

Download: M. Weatherburn, Don't Believe the Hype: Work, Robots, History (Resolution Foundation, December 2017) here.

Michael has been a member of the Low Cost by Design (LCxD) research network since 2015. LCxD is an interdisciplinary team of researchers, with a focus on the challenges raised by the development, manufacture and sustainment of complex defence equipment and services. Michael’s historic knowledge, research skills and focus on the future workforce have contributed to the ongoing impact made by the LCxD network. Funders and users of the network's projects have noted on many occasions the direct relevance of his work to their needs. Read more about the project.

Dr Michael Pryce
Academic Lead on Policy Engagement at Cranfield University Centre for Defence Acquisition
"Investment in alternative data, particularly in the financial sector in which I am based, is now global, and companies large and small are directing substantial resources at this field. Alt-data can be particularly useful in sectors like asset management and banking, for purposes such as forecasting asset prices and determining credit ratings, where traditional datasets are commoditized and where uncertainty is high. A recent report from Deloitte suggests that spending on big data analytics by investment firms may exceed US$7 billion by 2020.  But finding and deploying alternative data, including long-horizon datasets, with which firms can keep ahead of the competition is a real challenge. Dr Weatherburn's work in this space is informative both from a practical perspective ("which types of datasets are available and might be useful?") and theoretical ("why should we care about unusual or old datasets?")." 

Vinesh Jha
CEO of Hong Kong firm ExtractAlpha