Let’s face it, we live on Planet Data. Our lives are significantly influenced by the data generated from our actions. Moreover, the interpretation of that data becomes a reflection of us as individuals and as a society. For example, a lot of personal data is produced from using your mobile phone. Because of this data, your mobile phone is a unique representation of you on this planet, therefore it can provide extremely meaningful information about you, your habits, and your lifestyle. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider all the data generated from all the other smart devices creeping into your life — even your car. As an individual, it is a challenge to manage and protect your data. As a business, the data management challenges increase exponentially but so do the opportunities.
As a business, success will depend on your ability to derive intelligence from the data generated by your customers, employees, partners, vendors, competitors – the list goes on. The sources and volume of data are exponential. An intentional, informed data management strategy can help you manage, protect and gain insights that create a competitive advantage. However, life on planet data needs a new perspective and a new set of capabilities.
From data-driven to intelligent
It is common to see references to company strategies being more data driven. Many of these strategies focus on utilising data to improve processes and make better factual business decisions. However, being a data-driven business is no longer sufficient. It is now imperative to build off a data-driven strategy and transform into an Intelligent Business. But what does that really mean?
Let’s look at some key characteristics of what it means to be an intelligent business. First it begins with the culture; a culture defined and modelled by leadership. Culture is what transforms you from a data-driven business to an intelligent business. It is what extends the capability of intelligence across the organisation.
The second characteristic of an intelligent business is technical capability. Today’s technology gives us the tools to extract business value from an inconceivable number of inputs. An intelligent business can deliver an optimised technology solution to a range of data-based investigations.
The final characteristic is leadership. It takes an experienced and innovative leader who understands the power of data to guide an organisation on the journey to becoming and intelligent business.
Community-Driven Data Culture
Intelligence must permeate your culture. The data-driven mind-set must be pervasive in order to transition to an intelligent business. I challenge you to think of a role for which you can make a decision without data. Every department and line of business has a responsibility to understand their data and how that data impacts decisions.
Leveraging data for intelligent decision making must become a second-nature mind-set for all your employees. Creating this new culture will require a transition for most organisations. Processes must change from being siloed and disconnected. The intelligent business requires the availability and sharing of data, and data knowledge, across functional areas and lines of businesses. In this transformed organisation data communities will enable members with knowledge of their domains to easily collaborate with other members on the understanding of available datasets and creation of new datasets.
Data-first Technology Infrastructure
In the era of the intelligent business, it is of no surprise that there are new complexities that must be addressed. It is imperative to support an environment that provides data consumers (i.e. data scientist, data analysts, data engineers, etc.) visibility into available data sources, as well as a means to request and gain access to the data inside the organisation and from third party sources. Leveraging data from multiple datasets, using multiple, different data processing and analytics tools, through to a production deployment, is a very complex journey. A strategy needs to be established for consistency and governance across the entire company for this entire lifecycle. The generation of fast, reliable and trusted answers for the business is the name of the game to gaining a competitive advantage.
An organisation that chooses to transform its business requires a data architecture supporting a wide variety of data sources, a robust processing core that can scale to any demand and a way to tie together data from different locations and contexts to achieve a desired outcome. Well-constructed data pipelines and the data fabrics in which they are created enable organisations to transform and thrive in a multicloud environment. With this approach, organisations can serve their consumers in an appropriate context, anywhere in the world.¹- Modern Enterprise Data Pipelines
“With this approach, organisations can serve their consumers in an appropriate context, anywhere in the world.”
Intelligent Company Leadership
It takes a significant amount of experience and understanding of the data landscape to lead a company through this journey. The commitment to becoming an intelligent business will cut across the responsibilities of the C-suite. Additionally, it will transform the traditional data roles, such as a Chief Information Officer, Chief Data Officer, Chief Security Officer and Chief Technology Officer. There will need to be an executive leadership team decision to evolve one of those roles to take on the responsibility of defining and driving the execution of an intelligent business strategy, or alternatively it may be more suitable to recognise the explicit role of Chief Intelligence Officer. Recognition of this role at this level will also communicate to the industry an implied level of quality, trust, and value as an intelligence-led business.
1 Bachman, Aref, Lemelin, Paduroiu. Modern Enterprise Data Pipelines. p.2. LINK TBA. 2021.