“Torture the data, and it will confess to anything.” – Ronald Coase, Economics, Nobel Prize Laureate
Today’s connected world is creating an intelligent economy that not only runs on data but is producing data-driven innovation at a staggering pace. All of this intelligence has fueled confusion over what technology is best suited for organizations that want to become data-driven and remain a step ahead of the competition. So while most companies recognize their data as a valuable asset, how they manage that data for maximum return is still evolving.
If you know Teradata, you know that we advocate using the right tool for the right job. It’s common sense; just like it’s common sense that the ‘good enough’ butter knife pales in comparison with a purpose-built screwdriver to get the job done in the best, fastest and most efficient way.
So, what common sense items do you rely on when building a data-driven culture and selecting the right technology to manage, analyze and access this data? As food for thought, here are a few that have guided me.
“In God we trust, all others bring data.” – William Edwards Deming
Trusted data—Trust in data evolves from consistency, which, in turn leads to greater accuracy, insight, and compliance in data-driven operations. By standardizing definitions of common business entities—such as financials, products, suppliers, and locations—across multiple systems, manufacturers create trusted, verified data that the business believes in. Master data management (MDM) tools synchronize data to meet the analytic needs of global businesses.
“The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession.” – Sherlock Holmes, fictional detective
Complete data—It’s easy to want to select familiar data, the data used today, or parts of the data that you believe are the most relevant to solve a particular problem. However, many data-driven organizations recognize that one question leads to another – or that today’s questions are not necessarily tomorrow’s. The ability to answer any question at any time relies on a data-centric solution that aggregates and standardizes all of the data at its most detail level from across multiple source systems (including ERP and software instances such as spreadsheets), functional areas, and geographies. Access to a complete set of integrated data provides global businesses visibility into customers, suppliers, products, processes, costs, and risks.
“Too often we forget that genius, too, depends upon the data within its reach, that even Archimedes could not have devised Edison’s inventions.” – Ernest Dimnet
Easy access to data—Once companies integrate their data, and are confident in its quality, it should be made easily available to both tactical and strategic decision makers so that everyday decisions can be made against any data, anytime, anywhere. Processing power and data handling capabilities are critical to supporting agile, data-driven decision making. With ready data access, business users from the boardroom to the front line can quickly ask questions of the data, get fact-based answers, and follow up with additional questions, with everyone using the same information.
“We are drowning in information and starving for knowledge.” – Rutherford D. Rogers
Intuitive tools—Business analysts deserve an exceptional experience. They need tools to help them organize the data and intuitively drill down into details, pose additional queries, and get valuable information. These tools should be supported by the IT organization, but analysts must be able to use them effectively without constant reliance on IT staff.
“Every day, three times per second, we produce the equivalent of the amount of data that the Library of Congress has in its entire print collection, right?” – Nate Silver
Support for growth and change— A data-centric organization needs a solution that is flexible enough to change and scale with business growth, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, and realignments. Unlike rigid IT solutions that require predefined data definitions and processing logic, today’s solutions can keep pace as business rules, organizational structures, and market conditions change. Flexible solutions protect the long-term investment and evolve as new technologies, data sources and data types, and needs evolve.
Manufacturing is at the frontlines of new data sources; and executives are confronted with understanding which tools are best to build competitive advantage. What other common sense ideas have you discovered on your quest to lead in the new data-driven intelligent economy?