Organizations are sitting on a mountain of data and untapped business intelligence, all stored across various internal and external systems. Those that utilize their data and analytics the best and the fastest will deliver more revenue, better customer experience, and stronger employee productivity than their competitors.
And the organizations that can answer the tough questions by learning from their data to discover new insights and implement changes first will win. They’ll leave their competitors in the dust.
So, what can IT teams do to be the change agents that enable their organizations to utilize their information more efficiently and effectively than competitors?
A lot. Here’s what you should do.
Increase Collaboration Between Business and IT
The first step is to ask: What does your organization want to know, and what does it need to get the answers?
Most organizations already have answers to the first part of that question. They include goals such as generating more revenue, retaining customers, increasing the average deal size, and more.
The hard part is figuring out what’s needed to deliver on those goals.
This is where you can help. You can figure out what’s needed to deliver on business goals by asking:
- What data is needed to meet business objectives?
- Where is the data located?
- Does the data even exist?
- Who needs access to or answers from the data?
- How do you use the information to meet the business goal?
When you use these questions to align IT initiatives and investments with your organization’s business needs, you can determine what you need to deliver solutions that empower your organization and give you a competitive advantage.
Remove Unnecessary Barriers, Redundancy, and Shadow IT
There are many good reasons why organizations keep their sensitive data behind heavily locked doors. However, the same barriers that help reduce risk can also be over-restrictive and lead to problems with redundancy, inconsistency, and inefficiency.
And too many barriers lead to shadow IT.
For these reasons, you should ask yourself the (somewhat frightening) question: What if you made data more readily available for people in your organization? What if they could serve themselves?
The more people you have looking at the same data, the more insights you’ll get from it. That’s a good thing. The diversity of thought from different backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences leads to new ideas and innovative solutions – all things companies need to gain an advantage.
It’s your job to devise a solution to removing barriers while providing Data Governance.
Here are a few objectives you should use:
- Identify critical data assets and establish clear data ownership and accountability
- Establish a Data Governance council and simple policies to ensure alignment
- Establish minimum viable data classification, quality, security, and privacy requirements
- Define efficient Data Management and integration procedures
- Implement technology solutions and tools to support Data Governance processes
- Invest in Data Management, integration, and visualization tools
- Establish a metadata management system or data catalog
Increasing your organization’s access to data might be met with wide and concerned eyes. But explaining the potential benefits of giving more people access should be met with wide and intrigued eyes.
But with dynamic Data Governance policies that support the increase of data access in place, you’ll be delivering value, all while reducing shadow IT.
Cultivate a Data-Driven Culture
When describing a data-driven culture, we often refer to organizations that broadly collect, analyze, and use data to make decisions.
But a data-driven culture requires everyone in your organization to also talk about and understand the data.
You can think of data literacy as you would medical literacy. Healthcare providers need to know which information to seek from their patients so they can provide a proper diagnosis. Patients need to know which information to provide to get the best answers from their providers.
As they share this information, the terminology, explanations, and differing literacy levels can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings.
The same is true for data literacy.
As you develop a plan to address your company’s data literacy levels, consider the following:
- Who are the people that will benefit the most from increased data literacy?
- What are the current data skills and knowledge levels or gaps?
- What training is needed to help bridge communication gaps between data scientists and leaders?
When everyone can understand what information is needed, how to communicate it, and how to interpret it, your organization can make better and faster decisions.
Use Cloud as a Differentiator
Cloud analytics platforms are uniquely designed for the world of disparate data sources and data literacy.
Of course, like any product, no two cloud analytics platforms are the same, and you should consider how one fits into your strategy, business goals, and data tech stack.
Since you should be focusing on increasing three main things (collaboration between IT and business, data access, and data literacy), you should focus on cloud analytics platforms that:
- Enable the cataloging, searching, importing, exporting, and sharing of data sources and assets in a centralized location
- Remove the barriers to data access and analytics, plus limit shadow IT
- Speed up (or automate) simple and complex analytics processes, from data prep to machine learning
- Support a data-driven culture while increasing data literacy
- Provide services for all people within the organization
Please make a note of that last bullet point. Many cloud analytics platforms provide functionality and features for data workers but not leaders who will interact with them too.
For your organization to make decisions faster than the competition, your analytics solution must make life easier for everyone.
The Light Is Green
Everything in business is a race. Sometimes it’s a race against time. Sometimes it’s a race against your competitors. Often, it’s a race against both.
And you’re behind the steering wheel.
By aligning with business objectives, removing barriers, fostering a data-driven culture, and embracing the power of the cloud, you can be the one that helps your organization take the lead – and never look back.