A friend of mine just opened a traditional brick and mortar business, reinvented on a digital foundation, and our conversations on this new venture frequently center on where to focus time and energy, when everything demands attention, all the time! I’ve come to realize that running a business in the digital economy, where everything is connected and constantly communicating, challenges the time and attention of even the most focused individuals. From small business to enterprise, from marketing to operations, from sales to IT, in a world where everything is generating data, why do we struggle to hear what the data is telling us?
New research from Will Cappelli at Gartner1 sums up that although availability and performance data volumes have increased by an order of magnitude over the last 10 years, enterprises find the data in their possession insufficiently actionable. However, transforming data from “insufficiently actionable” to “actionable” is a closer reality than you might believe if your organization is open to discussing these three questions:
- Is data really “owned” by any one role or person? For years, we’ve assigned ownership of technology and therefore the data associated with that technology. In the digital economy, where services more closely resemble a collection of connections, it’s worth asking how we could benefit by using the data thought to be owned by someone else. Does social media sentiment on an IT dashboard sound crazy to you? Seems like those tasked with running the service would probably love to know what users and customers think of the service. Marketing is no more the owner of customer perception data than the CIO or the application team. When we free the data and let everyone view the data that matters to the service, in the context of their role, the customer AND the business win.
- If you could make faster, more accurate decisions by asking more questions, would you? There is a reason why so many people turn to Google when they are looking for answers. It’s human nature to ask a question in your own words and explore the endless possibilities presented in the search results. In the pursuit of standardization and measurement, however, we’ve used things like KPIs as indicators for success and failure. KPIs are sound units of measurement for many things, but when focused on the same handful of measurements for an extended period of time, we miss the big picture. Machines are powerful enough to watch KPIs and even fix something when a KPI turns red. In the digital economy, I want the brain power on my team in hot pursuit of knowledge and idea exploration, founded in data, as this presents an exciting opportunity to discover new possibilities for speed, agility, and differentiation!
- How much more fun could you have in a data-driven culture? Data gives teams the opportunity to build on fact. While debate is fun and worthwhile, debate based on fact is far more productive and tangible. With technology at the core of every business model, it’s inevitable that technology owners become the de facto authority on “how” to achieve business objectives. This presents an opportunity for IT leaders to drive cultural change at every level of an organization. Do the tools and technologies you procure support data-driven thinking? Do you challenge your teams and your peers to substantiate their decisions with data? Do you use historical AND real-time data to make decisions? These are fun and worthwhile activities because they create results.
There is an opportunity for anyone, in any role, in the digital economy, to transform data exhaust into digital currency. The days of “insufficiently actionable” data generated by the digital business are coming to an end with the introduction of advanced analytics technologies that free the data and support multiple analytics use cases for multiple different roles using a single big data analytics platform. Data-driven decisions that harness the power of many different data sources make working smarter, not harder a reality in the digital economy.
Build a Long-Term Big Data Analytics Strategy
1 Gartner, Causal Analysis Makes Availability and Performance Data Actionable, Will Cappelli, 07 October 2015