As my colleague Bill Franks recently pointed out on his blog, there is often the perception that being data-driven is all about technology. While technology is indeed important, being data-driven actually spans a lot of different areas, including people, big data processes, access, a data-driven culture and more. In order to be successful with big data and analytics, companies need to fundamentally embed it into their DNA.
To be blunt, that level of commitment simply must stem from the top rungs of any organization. This was evident when Teradata recently surveyed 316 senior data and IT executives. The commitment to big data was far more apparent at companies where CEOs personally focus on big data initiatives, as over half of those respondents indicated it as the single most important way to gain a competitive advantage.
Indeed, industries with the most competitive environments are the ones leading the analytics push. These companies simply must find improvements, even if the needle is only being moved in the single digits with regards to things like operational costs and revenue.
Those improvements don’t happen without proper leadership, especially since a data-driven focus impacts just about all facets of the business — from experimentation to decision-making to rewarding employees. Employees must have access to big data, feel empowered with regards to applying it and be confident in their data-driven decisions.
In organizations where being data-driven isn’t embedded in the DNA, someone may go make a decision and attempt to leverage a little data. But, if they don’t feel empowered by the data’s prospects and aren’t confident in the data, they will spend a lot of cycles seeking validation. A lot of time will be spent simply attempting to ensure they have the right data, the accurate data, that they are actually making the right decision based on it and that they will be backed up once that decision is made.
There is a lot of nuance with regards to being data-driven, of course. While all data has value, there are lots of levels to that value – the challenge generally lies in recognizing the values and extracting it. Our survey confirmed, for instance, just how hot location data is right now, as organization work to understand the navigation of their customers in order to deliver relevant communication.
Other applications of data, according to the survey, include the creation of new business models, the discovery of new product offers, and the monetization of data to external companies. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Healthcare, for example, is an up-and-coming industry with regards to data usage. An example is better understanding path to surgery — breaking down the four or five steps most important to achieving a better patient outcome.
But whether you’re working in a hospital or a hot startup, and working to carve out more market share or improve outcomes for patients, the fundamentals we’ve been discussing here remain the same. Users must be empowered and confident in order to truly be data-driven — and they’re not going to feel that way unless those at the top are leading the way.