Technology has completely changed the competitive landscape – forcing companies to continuously adapt, innovate and improve in order to survive.
This rapid advancement of software, tools and automation has not just changed the way we do business but also the sheer amount of data organisations collect.
Arising from a multitude of sources, this data is a goldmine of information, insights and opportunities.
However, despite an organisation’s ability to collect volumes of data from all areas of their business, very little of this data is ever used.
Shervin Khodabandeh, partner and managing director with Boston Consulting Group, estimates the percentage of data used is as low as 5%.
Suffice to say, companies are not maximising the value of their data!
There are a number of reasons for this.
The good news is that just as technology has increased how much and how easily data is acquired, there are now powerful tools you can use to maximise the values of your organisation’s data.
What stops you from maximising the value of your data?
What data do you have?
Right now, you probably have no idea what data your company has.
This is because most of the data is hidden away in silos. Each department collects its own data, which comes from different sources, is acquired by different methods, and is made up of different types. This data may also be stored in different locations.
Certain people have access to this data but usually, the decision makers have no idea that most of the data exists.
Pulling all this data together, collating it, and making it visible and searchable is a critical first step.
Without doing this, an organisation cannot even begin to start getting value out of their data.
Navigating different systems
Lacking a central location to find the data that is needed for a certain task or analysis, leaves business people and analysts having to search through multiple systems.
Not only is this time-consuming but not everyone will have access or the necessary knowledge to navigate these different systems.
This is particularly true for the business side of the company.
IT technicians and analysts have no issue diving into these different platforms to extract the data they need, but for sales, marketing, HR, operations or the management team, they have no idea where to start.
Without the necessary data at their fingertips, these areas of the business are largely flying blind and have no way to make truly informed decisions.
Conflict between the IT and business sides of the organisation
Having to navigate different systems and platforms to find data, inevitably leads to conflict between the IT and business sides of the company.
Whose role is it create quarterly sales reports for the sales team?
The sales team? But if they cannot pull the data they need out of the point of sale system and the other places the necessary data is stored, then it becomes part of the IT team’s role.
The IT side of the business would argue that quarterly sales reports have nothing to do with them and their role in the business. Not to mention, a waste of their time and skill.
The only way to solve this is to have a central system where each area of the business can easily search for and find the data they need to do their job. A “Google Search” for your organisation’s data.
An intelligent data catalog
A data catalog is a central repository where all your company’s data is collated and cataloged. This includes not just the data itself but its metadata, characteristics, location, access, provenance and more.
Using an intelligent data catalog, organisations can start to harness the power of the data they’ve collected.
Unlike traditional data catalogs, which rely on people to carefully find and catalog all the business’s data, intelligent data catalogs also use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms.
This not only dramatically speeds up the creation and maintenance of the catalog but also enables relationships to be mapped and intelligent semantic searches to be performed.
This central data catalog means organisations know where their data is and there is only one system to navigate. Importantly, it's been designed to be as simple as using as Google so anyone, from the sales team to the analysts, can quickly and easily source the information they need.
Maximising the value of data
An intelligent data catalog allows organisations to maximise the value of their data in a number of ways.
The majority of data in a company is unstructured and lacking relevant metadata. For these reasons, it is unlikely a company would be able to incorporate this data as part of their analysis.
A data catalog is able to collate both the structured and unstructured organisational data together and add missing metadata.
This creates a powerful 360 degree view of all the data and makes it discoverable to anyone with access in the business.
Data governance is extremely important as companies scale and grow. Data collected and used has to comply with the relevant legislation, as well as be secure and stored safely.
It also includes creating standards and policies for the data so that it can be used effectively.
The visibility a data catalog provides supports the organisation’s governance of its data and makes it easy to make sure new data complies.
The data catalog takes the data out of silos and puts it in one central catalog that all the necessary people can access.
With the addition of tagging, commenting and recommending data sets, users can collaboratively work with the data.
This saves time, duplication of work, and allows different parts of the business to add additional insight to the data.
People normally need data as soon as possible.
The data catalog can be accessed 24/7 and results can be rapidly found. This allows the organisation to keep up and get ahead in the fast-paced competitive landscape they operate in.
The AI and machine learning algorithms learn the search patterns of users in the organisation and what data they were after, so are able to provide quicker and better search results.
This allows analysts to focus on analysis and not spend a lot of their time searching for data before they can start.
Overall, despite the vast amount of data an organisation collects, hardly any of it is known about or even analysed.
Companies tend not to know where their data is and, if they do, people have to navigate through different systems to find the relevant data. This leads to a disconnect between the business and IT sides of the organisation because the business side doesn’t have the skills or access to extract data from these systems.
Using an intelligent data catalog solves these problems. It also makes it easy to discover, govern, collaborate on and analyse all the data in the business.
Available at any time from anywhere, it allows organisations to maximise the value of the data in their business.