What stands in the way of effective use of data? Let’s face it: it’s people as much as technology. Silos of data and expertise cause friction in many companies. To create a winning strategy for data-driven business, you need fast, effective collaboration between teams, something much more like a pit crew than an org chart. To gain speed, you must find a way to break the silos between groups.
In most organizations, multiple teams are involved with data. Data may be used, passed onto another stage as an input, or both. Each use case involves end users, user interface designers, data scientists, business analysts, programmers, and operations people.
For BI to work optimally it must break through at least three silos:
- Silo 1: BI architects
- Silo 2: Data analysts
- Silo 3: Business users
First, those focusing on data prep, programming and advanced analysis must not only work together but must be directed by the needs of the business users, ideally with a tight feedback loop. You don’t just want to get something in the hands of employees; you want to get the right thing in front of each of them, and that means communicating and understanding their needs.
Other types of silos exist between lines of business. For an insight to have maximum impact, it must find its way to those who need it most. Everyone must be on the lookout for signals that can be used by other lines of business and pass them along.
Silos Smashed: An End-to-End View
There’s no way to achieve an end-to-end view without breaking down silos. Usage statistics can show what types of analysis are popular, which increases transparency. Cross-functional teams that include all stakeholders (BI architects, data analysts, and business users) also help in breaking down barriers.
With the silos smashed, you can acquire value from data faster. Speed is key and breaking down silos can do for BI what pit crews do for racing. Data-driven business moves fast, and we must find more efficient ways of working together, cutting time off each iteration as we move toward real-time delivery of the right data to the right person at the right time.
For example, we should be able to see how changing a price affects customers and impacts the bottom line. And we should be able to do that on a store manager’s mobile device in real-time, not waiting until the back office runs the report and comes down from Mount Olympus with the answer. Immediacy of data for decision-making–that’s what drives competitive advantage.
While I’m at Strata, I’ll be looking for new ideas about how to break the silos and speed time to value from data. I’m interested to hear your thoughts as well.
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