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This year the bastions of traditional industry will fall to the data and analytics hordes

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In 2017 the democratisation of data will come into its own, but paradoxically, with greater data governance.

The democratisation of data, that is self-service by the casual user (a business person), will come into its own, and inevitably create the need for greater data governance. As a consequence, analytics and metadata management will eventually converge into a single platform. Only eight per cent of employees are advanced spreadsheet users, and they spend 1.3 billion hours on repeatable work, compromising the integrity of data. What this means is that information workers, are in one form or another, about to be information dealers like never before.

This year we’ve seen the mainstream adoption of data analytics for business use. Gartner reported that over 1,000 large enterprises have a Chief Data or Chief Analytics Officer, and is predicting that 90 per cent of large organisations will have the position before 2020.

Later, large companies will trust self-learning AI to pull business insights and data alongside people.

IBM’s Watson may have been the first of its kind but I would expect to see businesses embracing algorithmic business information. We should begin to see innovative organisations using them for forecasting business growth and financial information. This can then be interpreted by the financial team and senior management.

The most hide-bound sectors will begin using analytics in business

As the benefits of big data become increasingly obvious we will start seeing greater adoption of big data in sectors such as HR and education. Thanks to a broadening analytics culture and self-service analytics systems that enable everybody, regardless of technical knowledge, to understand and decipher big data, I would expect to see even the most qualitative of businesses look to embrace the revolution.

As a consequence, man and machine will really enter a truly symbiotic relationship. Humanity has bought into a machine symbiosis, and the trend is for more convenient, smarter technology that is easy to pick up and run with. This empowerment trend is part of the democratisation of data. The new simplicity means more users come ‘online’, using more applications – and creating an ever better man/machine relationship, as well as the continued upward curve of the data and metadata explosion.

So when a tool like IBM Watson can go through medical papers, research and journals, to present the best range of clinical decisions, the final stage is for the trained doctor to make the final decision for a patient, with the context and humanity of a real human being.

And in step with the rise of new, or more well-known tools and technologies, we will see the workforce reskilling through education courses like nano degrees to further simplify interactions with data.

The death of gut feeling

The numbers are revealing. Managing directors still prefer their personal experiences – or hunches – over neutral, industry data. A 2016 study by KPMG of 400 CEOs revealed that a third of CEOs had a high-level of trust in the accuracy of their organisation’s data and analytics. In fact, 29 per cent had limited trust or outright active distrust.

Why should this be? Well, to many, and up to now, data has been seen as a black box. The skills to manipulate it (play with it, really), were specialised, and the technology was expensive, time-consuming and required further skills or knowledge to utilise properly, from IT to software coding abilities.

Yet now organisations increasingly have a curator of data. Some few pioneers have chief data or chief analytics officers helping to create a data-driven culture across the enterprise and much more are changing from a bottom-up approach.

For the C-suite, better workflow visualisation has increased understanding of data at top levels. Yet 2017 should now see a broadening of reporting outputs to serve a wider variety of executives, and indeed, data users at all levels.

If organisations are really looking to become truly insights-driven, they must assign data responsibilities. It might be to the CIO, CMO, and even the CEO. It’s more about the type of person who drives it, not the role. The personality with the will to unlock a data culture is the natural fit to drive fast business activity based on data-driven insights and to share and ignite that passion for the organisation.

 

Dean Stoecker

Dean Stoecker

Dean Stoecker is the CEO and chairman of Alteryx, as well as one of the three co-founders. Dean's leadership and motivational skills, along with his ability to create, communicate and carry out a vision, are a driving force behind the company’s focus on empowering line-of-business analysts through self-service data analytics. Dean’s interests lie in spatial technology, business intelligence and solving hard analytic problems.

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Tags: Big Data, Business, Business Management