Congratulations. It took time, but you’re data-driven. You’ve got data scientists to crunch numbers, a fully stocked data lake, and analysts to clarify it all. But even with the infrastructure in place, benefiting from data isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. These days, businesses have yet to properly manage their data.
Becoming a "Data-First" Company
On August 29, 2018, ThinkData Works CEO Bryan Smith led a talk at Communitech in Waterloo about "Data-First" companies. The organizations that invest in data first and foremost - and are changing the business landscape. Apple had famously reached a trillion dollar valuation on August 2, 2018, and Smith predicted that Amazon wasn't far behind. The race to a trillion mimics the 4 minute mile: as soon as one person breaks it, we're going to see a lot of other companies start breaking it.
Six days later, Amazon hit that mark.
But it's not just mega-corporations who will benefit from being data-first; there are countless opportunities for data to play a role in increasing value for businesses and customers alike.
Whether you're just starting to develop your data capabilities or they've been your focus for years, becoming a data-first company is about more than infrastructure.
It's about developing the best game plan.
At Communitech, Smith outlined five ways that every organization can maximize the amount, the quality, and the value of the data they use.
1. Sharing data has to be secure and simple.
There are a number of issues with the way most companies share data internally. The issue of security is top priority. Emailing spreadsheets is irresponsible, especially when they contain sensitive information, but it's still the way a lot of companies share data. If the data in that spreadsheet changes next week, you've got to do the whole process again.
Among the multiple ways of distributing information, whether you’re using a thumbdrive or Dropbox, problems exist. Managing permissions, keeping data up-to-date, the list goes on.
So then, what are the keys to successful and responsible data management?
It’s finding a way to share data securely, maintaining a current version, and having specific access and control permissions set for users. Doing it all with ease is the key to an efficient data team.
2. External data is too good an opportunity to pass up.
We don't need to explain the value of external data. Data created outside the walls of your organization can help deliver unique insights and give you a competitive edge. The problem is that data created outside your organization is, well, created outside your organization. Finding, connecting to, and normalizing data from external sources is a strain on your team that grows exponentially with every new source you connect to.
The value and availability of data means that everyone should be connecting to more, not less, of it. Organizations and individuals should be able to access a data marketplace that makes every source of external data available in the format they want. The data marketplace is a data management solution that acts as a bridge between having data and using it to your advantage.
3. Your data scientist is handcuffed.
Working with a top notch data scientist and can't figure out why they haven't built something amazing? It's not them, it's your data. 80% of a data scientist's time is eaten up by the most menial aspects of their job - sourcing data and making it useable. About a fifth of their time is taken up simply finding the data, and a staggering 60% of their time is spent to cleaning, organizing, formatting, getting data into shape.
That's not why they got into data science.
Without a data management solution, their time is occupied by doing “the dirty work” rather than leveraging data to help you build your business.
4. Only 0.5% of data is being used.
MIT Technology Review published this statistic and it really knocked us off our feet. But the truth of the matter is that of the 2.5 exabytes of data created every day, only a tiny fraction is being used.
Transforming data into something meaningful is difficult. Despite the high quantity of data and the appetite for its insight, the barriers to using internal and external data effectively have made it very difficult to use a lot of it.
In practice, this means that for most companies the only data they're connecting to is
- the lowest hanging fruit, or
- that which is absolutely critical for their success.
This means that getting creative with data, or developing models and trying them out is out of scope. In order to gain the advantages of data, we can't be stingy with it.
5. $1.8 trillion dollars.
That's why. According to Forrester "By 2021, insights-driven business will steal $1.8 trillion dollars a year in revenue from competitors that are not insights-driven."
Mind the word "steal." In order to compete, businesses are going to have to significantly increase the amount of data they use.
It's great to have your data in a lake. Now it's time to get it out.
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