17 Aug 5 ways to give your data to those who need it
Big data is the panacea to all our problems… or so we are told. All over the world, we’re seeing organisations catapulting to exciting new levels by leveraging their data in ingenious ways.
However, plenty of companies are still just kicking tyres, wondering what on earth to do with their data, and how to make it happen.
Worse still, many other firms have tried to ‘do’ big data… and failed.
It’s true that data scientists can uncover some unremarkable insights. With the right data, and some really cool mathematics, they can run an array of analytical techniques and produce findings that the human eye would never be able to identify; even with Excel 2016.
However, even the most exciting of insights can be worthless unless they’re paired with an essential ingredient: context.
And here’s the problem: the majority of data analysis is performed by tech-savvy nerds; people who are great at understanding data, but not necessarily at translating the data into business speak or giving it organisational relevance. In many companies, there’s a divide between the cool cats who make the big, million-dollar business decisions, and the data experts who are at the coal-face; crunching the info.
Do you give your data to those who need it?
The good news, however, is that this problem can be easily overcome with a few simple measures. Here is how we have seen some successful companies solve the problem:
1. Make data accessible
It’s important to democratise your data.
Break down the notion that big data is only accessible by your technical team and make it available to everyone. Aggregate your data into a central repository and invest time and effort in making it easy to use and interpret by everyone across your business.
2. Enable the right people with the right tools
To interpret data, your people need the right tools.
Make this real by providing it the support it needs:
- Open up data in a user friendly way
- Give the right tools to the right people
- Teach everyone how to access the big data
The fear in doing this, unleashing the whole organisation on to the big data platform, will result in hundreds and thousands of dashboards and visualisations that no one looks at or even needs.
But hasn’t that been the case with Excel, or even MS Access for the past 20 years?
How many results would you get if you searched for “Book1.xls” on your server?
I’d say that’s only a reflection of the business’ desire to explore the data they have available to find something that’s not in a standard report. And this is the exact point of making your big data available to everyone.
Let them explore in their own way but using a much better environment; one that not only gives them the right data and the right methods but also allows them to share and collaborate. An impossible task, regardless of how many Book1.xls you have but much more probable with a proper data environment
3. Get everyone talking
Within any organisation, the people with the best analytical skills often struggle to provide real value, unless they know what real value looks like.
Encouraging everyone to work together and discuss what’s important for the business can certainly help data scientists understand what to look for.
A secondary benefit is the process of articulation. When decision makers are required to describe challenges, they may sometimes be forced to think about issues in a different way, which can uncover a whole raft of possibilities. As such, conversations can change. Legacy discussions, shackled to the old way of thinking, can fade away and new questions and thought processes can emerge.
4. Question the need for existing reports
While most companies have some sort of reporting framework in place, it’s smart to regularly challenge the framework – ensuring that the reports are adding value and not simply being completed for reporting’s sake.
When you review your existing reports, you’ll typically find that some will stand the test of time. Others will require more of a deep-dive interrogation. And some will quickly stand out as “we do this because this is the way we’ve always done it” reports.
Set these reports free, and focus on using data to fine-tune the reports that add the most value.
5. Share the love
As the big data landscape continues to evolve, businesses need to break down the notion that big is only for the tech-savvy or key decision makers – and deliver it to the entire workforce. Already, we’re seeing a level of data analytics expertise becoming a pre-requisite for all kinds of professional positions.
The sole purpose of data analytics is to uncover new insights that provide value to the business as a whole. These insights can be new, inventive and unlikely to have been seen by anyone in the business before.
Sharing these insights can help change the way in which everyone in your business views big data. And you can then sit back, and wait for the snowball effect to take hold.