Fintech entrepreneur Douglas Merrill once said, “Big data isn’t about bits, it’s about talent.” While this has many applications for the way we think about, collect, analyse, and use data to improve operational efficiency and decision-making, it’s a good reminder that analytic tools are only part of the equation. When any business begins the process of implementing a data analytics solution or moving their analytics to the cloud, the first steps often involve logistics like cost optimisation, identifying analytic platform features and capabilities, and creating a strategy for implementation. However, many business and IT leaders overlook how impactful the role of data is to the organisation as a whole, and just how many people, processes, and roles need to be in place to successfully manage and apply data.
More organisations are now migrating data to the cloud to reap the benefits, but it’s essential to consider how your people and systems will be impacted by a new data pipeline and what tools and training will be involved if you move to a more automated analytics platform.
Why you need a data-driven culture, not just a data platform
According to Gartner, the biggest roadblocks to analytics success are data literacy and company culture. Gartner defines data literacy as the ability to read, write, and communicate data in context, and to describe its applications and resulting value. In other words, every employee should have a basic understanding of how to read and use data to inform decision-making. Time and again we see organisations that promote data literacy achieve greater levels of profitability and success. In fact, Forrester’s report indicates that data-driven companies that harness and implement insights grow at an average of 30% more than their competitors.
The benefits of a data-driven culture are striking:
- Improved collaboration is a core tenant of a data-driven culture – Companies that have easier access to data save more time in collaborating and sharing reports across their organisations. This results in improved situational awareness and performance at an individual and team level.
- Data-driven cultures make better decisions – Data-driven decisions help companies stand out from the competition by enabling leaders to define and measure KPIs across the organisation to achieve better decision-making capabilities and to align measures of success.
- Company cultures led by data are more optimised – By having a complete picture of data across departments, leaders can learn how long it takes departments to complete a task, how much tasks cost, which employees are high or low performers, how resources are being used, and other integral pieces of information that influence company profits.
- Data-driven cultures create happier customers – As Alan Duncan points out, the true benefit of a data-driven culture is to better serve one’s customers. While a data platform can provide invaluable insights into customer buying habits, it can’t tell you how to apply that data to the human experience. Your people can.
Change management always starts at the top. In order to embrace data across the organisation, leadership must inspire and promote data initiatives and employees at all levels should be helped through the transition to new working practices.
Operational considerations for moving to cloud analytics
Of course, people and technology are two sides of the same coin. On the technology side, we often see a pattern emerge when enterprises begin to adopt the cloud: leaders put the same processes and practices in place as they would have done in traditional data analytics environments. This typically results in a number of barriers across systems, departments, and roles, making it difficult to use data effectively or promote data collaboration. Although cloud analytics can improve outcomes, business and IT leaders need to evolve the processes by which infrastructure and applications are managed.
Cloud services cannot be supported effectively by traditional IT environments. The siloed approach to operations—network, operating system, storage, middleware, and security teams—is less effective when supporting cross-functional, cross-domain services. A dedicated set of resources, processes, and technologies is often required for the effective creation and management of cloud services.
Fully resolving legacy IT challenges takes time, but business leaders can address short-term data needs by working with cloud data experts to tackle technological complexities.
Lean on experts to drive organisational change
Ultimately, success with data analytics means optimising the entire organisation, but the benefits of creating a data-driven, cloud-led organisation outweigh the challenges. One of the fastest paths to success is to lean on cloud and analytics experts who can address your concerns, implement complex data pipelines, and otherwise help with integration, installation, and management on your behalf. At AcumenBI, we specialise in leveraging all aspects of your business to identify trends and uncover variables so you can make effective changes.