Unleashing data’s full potential: The key to success

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We’re living in the ‘decade of data’ where data is the key to ensure resilience and stimulate business growth, particularly in times of economic turmoil where maintaining a competitive advantage is non-negotiable.

Data is the secret weapon in every company’s arsenal. As it becomes more ingrained in daily operations, the power it holds is evident. But with great power comes great risk, and this continues to catch businesses out time and time again. Everyone knows the misuse of data can be detrimental to a business - often resulting in hefty fines and significant reputational damage - but it’s the underuse of effective data which often catches businesses out.

More than ever, businesses are aware of the importance of collecting and leveraging data, but there is often a misalignment between this acknowledgement and how data is being used in practice. Businesses are at risk of making easily avoidable mistakes when it comes to the management of their data. Addressing the issues that surround data management will be the secret to success this year. A proactive, best-of-breed approach is key for businesses to ensure their analytics programs are dominating the industry, which will enable them to make significant advancements regarding their data management and help weather the economic storm.

So how can businesses bridge this gap and unleash the full potential of their data?

Empower employees through data

Aim for the best in every aspect of the process rather than settling on a ‘good enough’ solution - particularly if that is code for ‘low cost from our preferred vendor regardless of utility’. That trap simply reduces the ROI on any broader cloud and data investments made. A modern data stack is built for the cloud era and particularly the use of real-time analytics for companies looking to put data in the hands of all employees, build responsive apps and monetize data for new revenue streams.

Yes, data must be secure, governed, and regulated properly. But well-governed data needn’t be locked away. You can still empower a wider cohort of business analysts to use it safely. And by business analysts, let’s be clear: leaders are empowering everyone in the business to integrate their data, bring their expertise, and solve their own problems. Every sales manager, HR director, front-of-house customer service representative, and franchise manager should be able to get answers, test theories, and improve their own service with data, in the moment they think it.

Damien Brophy

Damien Brophy is Vice President for EMEA at Modern Analytics Cloud company ThoughtSpot.

Focus on real-time analytics

And that’s why the dashboard is dead in the cloud era. We live in an agile, volatile world, and the ability to experiment, flex, and change is incredibly important. Data can go stale quickly, and dashboards are now merely a way of serving up old news. Today, we’re in the real-time world of live analytics. There’s a place for data scientists and dedicated analytics teams, but the ROI for that skilled talent does not come from acting as an asynchronous ‘Google’ for other teammates. Make it easy for the people with domain expertise to answer their own questions as they ask them. Save the experts for where they bring their higher-level skills to bear.

The ability to tweak and change is very important. Self-service analytics enabled by search is a great way for domain experts to ask a question, gain an insight, then refine and ask again. They don’t have to be stuck in a process and wait for a data scientist to tweak the parameters. Data has shifted from a slow, often monthly-sourced resource, to one that can change on-the-fly, only useful when acted on at pace.

Prioritize user experience

Your data is precious, absolutely, but it’s like having one athlete in a team sport. Only one does not make a winning team - business is not a solo sport. Internal data should be blended with input from third parties to create a stronger proposition. Services that combine first and third-party data become incredibly sticky. Look at Google Maps. They have their mapping data which is augmented by real-time traffic data from road users. Sharing this data means real-time journey planning became viable. Cloud connections make such data integration a breeze. No one in the new data economy makes it on their proprietary data alone.

Large language models (LLMs), such as GPT-3 and GPT-4, have ushered in a new era for search, redefining the relationship between humans and machines. With a few simple natural language inputs, LLMs can create new content and information, and when built with the right machinery around it, can help users turn data into accurate, actionable, and trustworthy insights.

Users are the golden goose - they make magic happen when given the right tools. Solutions must be easy and even joyful to use. All the features that make consumer applications engaging serve to make the front end of the modern data stack a powerful resource, too. Rating, commenting, sharing, saving - the use of data and models can be a social experience. For engagement and adoption, think how apps and social media do it.

Data is the heart of any modern organization. Prioritizing user experience, implementing data strategies and building programs that address the above issues, will put businesses on the right path as we move forward in the decade of data.

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Damien Brophy is Vice President for EMEA at Modern Analytics Cloud company ThoughtSpot. Their mission is to create a more fact-driven world with the easiest to use analytics platform.