Building data pipelines

Dream first, data second: Why business teams will take the lead in analytics

Now more than ever, controlling your business destiny requires having access to detailed data; the ability to traverse its breadth and depth with speed and ease; perform analysis, and take decisive action. Fortunately, data analytics technology is becoming dramatically more intelligent, automated and easier to use.

That’s great news for business teams. We hear time and time again that data is the new critical natural resource that drives everything they do, and that having a workforce that is enabled to take that resource and turn it into incredible customer experiences is the key to incredible business performance. With new tools that reduce the cost and complexity of providing access to data, organizations can put far more of it in the hands of the people with deep expertise in their area of the business. That opens up all kinds of new possibilities.

I’ll be discussing some of these with Harish Dwarkanhalli, President of Wipro Limited, and a special guest–a Fortune 100 technology leader–at the Gartner Data and Analytics Summit May 4-6. They’ll be sharing best practices for modern data analytics, along with real life examples of how enterprises are putting their data to work. I’m always interested in seeing the cool, creative things that companies are doing with data, and if you are as well, I hope you can join us for some inspiration.

Magically appropriate

We’re at the beginning of the next evolution of data analytics, and we’re going to see some very exciting developments as business users take the lead. Personalization is one of my current favorite examples of how people are putting data to work, and we’re already seeing this in our personal lives in some of the offers delivered via social media that appear to be coming from somebody who knows you very, very well.

For example, I have a new home, and I’ve been searching for outdoor furniture on Google. And somehow, magically, I’m seeing very appropriate furniture ads on Facebook and Instagram. They’re showing me furniture at a certain price point, in a style I like, and saving me a ton of time and effort finding things that I want. That’s an amazing experience that is beneficial on both sides of the relationship.

The B2B space is way behind in delivering these kinds of experiences. I can think of a couple really cool B2B examples such as Gong, which is delivering revenue intelligence to sales teams, and Clari, which is doing the same with sales forecasting. Those products are being driven by impressive data and analytics platforms. But in general, there’s this huge gap in personalized, easy to use, fun to use B2B technology.

Dream before you dive

For example, a big part of my job as CEO is recruiting and developing talent, and I get dozens of emails about that every day, most of which are not very relevant. Using data about me, about the company and our job openings, along with profiles of  candidates in the market to deliver a perfect candidate to me via LinkedIn or text message would be a great use of personalization. Giving me something very specific around developing my workforce would be fantastic. I wouldn’t even mind getting messages like that through consumer channels that I’m spending time on, such as Instagram, because it’s highly relevant to my life. Understanding the channels that people react to and trust and spend time with in all parts of their lives is part of the whole data and analytics journey.

A tool like Incorta can help, but I think the first thing businesses have to do is develop a vision of what they could do with data and analytics if there were no constraints. Dream a little, before you really dive into the data, and do some design thinking exercises. Many of the B2B relationships we have today are not how they would be designed if you dreamed first and you had no constraints. The people that are the closest to the different parts of the business are the ones who are best positioned to reimagine them.

Of course there are constraints, such as data security and regulation, so it’s a balancing act to be sure. But organizations need not be constrained in their thinking by the data they have on hand today, or their current ability to access and use it.

Getting it backwards

We’ve been operating in a paradigm that requires organizations to implement a data warehouse, create a heavy ETL (extract, transform, load) layer, and manage multiple vendor relationships in order to slowly put a limited amount of data in the hands of a select group of users. Organizations are just beginning to appreciate how complex and costly the current approaches are, and despite decades of investment they’re still not providing the type of speed and agility that business requires today.

There is technology in the market now that is far more cost-efficient and delivers far more value. There are partners who can help you build just about anything, or buy the right applications to do whatever it is you want to do.

The problem is that people often start with the data and then say, “Okay, what can we do given the data that we have?” I think they have that backwards. There’s plenty of innovation and new thinking out there to support organizations that want to dream big, and apply that vision to their data and analytics process, that they really should be able to do just about anything.

Join Scott, Prasad and Harish for a Video Roundtable, Why Business Teams Will Lead the Next Decade of Data Analytics, at the Gartner Data and Analytics Summit, May 4-6.