We are drowning in data. According to a new study by IDC Digital Universe, nearly 1.8 zettabytes of data will be produced and replicated in 2011 alone. In case you’re wondering, a zettabyte equals one sextillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) bytes. Engineers love superlatives, and this stat is full of them- for example, this year’s 1.8 zettabytes is equivalent to the data required to store over 200 BILLION high definition movies.

That’s a lot of data.

And if you’re like us, you’re starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of the data being hurled at us. As consumers, we reap some obvious benefits from all of this data (assuming you’re in the mood to watch 200 billion movies); but as professionals, we are faced with a serious challenge: how do we deal with all of the numbers, statistics, charts, and reports constantly being hurled at us? Does all of this data really help us make better decisions, or are the trees obscuring the forest?

We hear a lot about information overload these days, and IDC’s report certainly lends credence to the notion. And while none would dispute the benefits all of this data has conferred upon business, perhaps our data obsession has brought us farther from the human perspectives that make data meaningful. It probably comes as no surprise that this is one of our core beliefs at Maven. Data and information in the absence of experience and perspective are worthless at best and downright dangerous at worst.

The irony of a bunch of data-obsessed engineers (that would be us) building a system to connect people to engage in the lowest-tech form of communication (conversation) is not lost on us. But the reality is that data by itself is worthless – only when combined with the expertise needed to assess what data is important and what data actually means does data become valuable.

So do the Google searches, collect the data, read the reports, review the statistics, look at the charts… and then TALK TO SOMEONE who can help you interpret it. We’re here to help you find the right person to make sense of it all.