Declaring data independence

Program Director, Analytics Platform Marketing, IBM

Most business people have always been dependent on someone else to provide the data needed in order to assess how our specific activities and areas of the business are performing:

  • How many people tuned in to last week’s webcasts?
  • How did those results compare with the results of other webcasts on other topics?
  • Did the results measure up to expectations? 
  • Does performance appear to be affected by time of day, season, speaker or topic? 


Marketers ask questions like these, as well as questions about the performance of products in their portfolios and the linkage between marketing campaigns and sales performance, but, before they can start to analyze the data and consider the next best actions to improve business results and have a positive impact, it is typically required to submit a request to IT for the data needed. Depending on the backlog of requests to IT, the marketer might have to wait days, weeks or more before moving ahead with analysis and action

While there iisn’t much consolation in numbers, the marketer facing a data delay is not alone. In organizations around the globe, the same waiting game is underway as analysts and other business people are busy waiting on rather than analyzing and acting on the latest data.

It’s time for a new declaration of independence. We, the business people of the world, in order to improve our own ability to have a positive impact on our organizations, declare independence from IT for every small request for data. We will now take advantage of self-service access to the data we need—data that is clean, timely and appropriate to our needs, and that has been secured to make sure we receive it only if we’re entitled to it.

The importance of IT

We don’t want to put our IT teams out of business. In fact, we’ll be looking to IT to help us by making more and more self-service opportunities available, and by taking care of enterprise standards such as shared glossaries of terms and protection of sensitive data, so that we don’t need to manage those things. 

While some of us have tried working around IT in the past and tapping into data from uncertain sources, we have always ended up with questions like these: How current is that data? Who owns it? Should we trust it? Frankly, we would prefer to use data from a source in which we have confidence, if only it didn’t take so long. Now it won’t.

What’s making independence a possibility is a new data refinery that takes in raw data, combines it, cleans it and makes it available to business users when we need it. Most business people won’t even be aware of the data refinery working behind the scenes, under the covers of cloud applications like Watson Analytics. But when the refinery is present, it will make our lives easier and help us get fast, reliable results.

Want to learn more about data refinement? Consider joining IBM subject matter experts and industry colleagues at IBM Insight 2014 in October where we'll continue the discussion during the Information Management track sessions, focused on how we can #makedatawork better, today!

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