Data and analytics is an IT thing, right? Yes. And, increasingly, no.
Sure, operational systems generate data, and those systems are under the close watch of the technology department. But operational data is just the first step in the data food chain that eventually serves to drive decision making. In between the krill (operational data) and the shark (decision making) there is a gap filled with opaque processes, data silos and politics that slow the decision making process.
That gap is fast disappearing. Driven by two forces; market pull, and sheer technological progress. Perceptions of what analytics can do for a business have changed, and business areas outside of IT now have the desire and capability to surface actionable analytics themselves. The flow on from there, is that people throughout the organisation inherently understand the need for accurate data. Increasingly front-line staff such as bank tellers are being measured on their ability to classify and fix data at source, as much as for providing a great customer experience. Yes, this means interactions take longer, but it is for the greater good. After all, an accurate forecast depends on good underlying information.
This is a major development. In the past it’s been difficult to get people who aren’t data nerds interested in data quality, but now, with the attention of the C Suite, it is everyone’s responsibility and everyone’s benefit to ensure data is fit for purpose.
And that’s the big bang moment we’re talking about. With the arrival of modern day analytics and visualisation tools, when everyone in an organisation can see data being useful to them, the lightbulb goes on. The universe expands. “This will make my job better, and I am in the driving seat!” Organisations can ride this wave and drive change from within. That’s a big deal.
Fundamentally, we have reached a tipping point. People have a greater respect for data, and can put their knowledge to good use. Tools like Power BI, Tableau or Qlik Sense are often the face of this revolution, but to really fly, these amazing tools need to be backed up with a flexible infrastructure and a focus on data quality from the C Suite. That change is happening right now. I attended the Chief Data and Analytics Officers conference this week, the first one in New Zealand – and the room was packed.
In short, analytics by itself is no longer a differentiator – to keep ahead of the game you need great analytics supported by a flexible data infrastructure, great data quality and a willingness to experiment.