Since I have been working for CompassLabs I have been getting even more appreciation for just how value there is in data. This article in the New York Times also makes the business case for data mining.
My first real taste for the power of data came about 10 years ago when I worked for WebMind. We looked at data from online financial discusion groups, SEC Edgar data, etc. to try to value stocks based on sentiment analysis (text mining) and raw data mining.