Three reasons to open up data to business users
No one denies the ability of big data (both structured and unstructured) to deliver insights to individuals, businesses and public service organizations. But who is responsible for making sense of the data, then providing the insights? You would be forgiven for thinking data analytics a dark art, one performed by data scientists in low-lit rooms using highly complex tools and algorithms. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Everyone has a stake in big data, and good tools and leadership are helping us get better at using it. Let’s examine three reasons to seize the advantages offered by putting data analysis in the hands of business users.
1. Users are already data-savvy
Most of us are already lifestyle data consumers, dependent on data from smartphones, popularity indexes (TripAdvisor, for example), fitness devices and social networks. Data informs our decision-making around social, work and health choices.
The increasing popularity of wearables is just one example of our increasing demand for accessible data—and recall that the global wearables market is forecast to reach approximately $12.6 billion by 2018. Through lifestyle use of data and analytics, we are improving our data proficiency. Simply put, we are getting better at using data.
And let’s not leave out the workplace. Shouldn’t we expect the same access to information in businesses, thus enhancing decision making? Wouldn’t business be easier if we not only accessed information to do our jobs, but were also offered insights helping us fix problems and discover opportunities? And all this without reliance on form filling, processes and spreadsheets?
2. Real insight no longer requires extensive training
What’s more, insights are now available to us via intuitive, user-friendly tools—which is important, because the human brain, though good at pattern recognition, has difficulty understanding complex statistical models and data relationships. For example, do you instantly arrive at insights when looking at a spreadsheet?
But human brains are wired to interpret relationships and trends using visual cues and imagery. In fact, visual discovery is more likely than nonvisual discovery to provide instant insights irrespective of role or function. Just look at the growth in demand for visual data discovery technology: IDC predicts that visual discovery tools will grow 2.5 times more quickly than the rest of the business intelligence tools market by 2018.
3. Leaders drive growth by infusing analytics into the workplace
If you derive business insights and decisions from spreadsheets and basic reporting tools, then you are already behind the curve. Your people need tools and information that can help them do their job, not least because data sources and tools for delivering real-time data analytics are proliferating as demand for fresh business insights grows. What’s more, you no longer need to be a data scientist to find and interpret the data; tools such as IBM Watson Analytics are putting insights into the hands of business and IT users alike. For a good example of analytics in action, learn how the UK-based Mears Group describes the value it has derived from its use of Watson Analytics.
An almost unimaginable amount of data (another 2.5 quintillion bytes each day) is now available to us in our personal and working lives. But how we access and use this data no longer rests purely in the hands of IT. Rather, we can all be insight owners—if we use the right tools with the right mindset.
What is your organization doing to innovate and to spread insight? Tell us what you think, describing what you need to help you change your business.