As life becomes increasingly digitalized, the potential of data to deliver better business outcomes and create new opportunities is almost limitless. When devising an approach to data and analytics, there are three key areas in which organisations tend to engage.
It begins with ambition
Organizations are usually very clear on the challenges they want to address, but seldom on how to use data and analytics to provide the answer. The challenges that data analytics can help with are many and varied. It could be testing a new product or business model, increasing operational efficiency or finding extra capacity. Specific examples might be how to pinpoint-predict the number of loaves of bread required at a specific supermarket location or, on a macro level, how to optimise train capacity for rail companies.
Alternatively, an organisation might want to look across its existing analytics use cases and identify which ones to accelerate for the best returns on investment.
Insight as a Service
Some organizations are simply curious and looking for greater insight and advantage. So rather than a particular business issue, it’s about enabling authorized employees and partners to easily access all relevant data resources of the organization in the right way.
The objective is to make it easy for people to access, use and gain value from a company’s data so that this becomes routine. Businesses want tools that enable that to happen and equip staff with immediate analysis and visualization tools for querying and using the data. This ‘Insight as a Service’ is, increasingly, something organisations want to invest in across their enterprise.
Building a strategy to become data-driven
A proportion of organisations want to define an over-arching strategy to enable them to become data-driven. This is a holistic exercise to look at which parts of the business will improve, what cultural and behavioural changes will be needed, and how the business can build up its own analytics and data science competence – a particular challenge in this relatively new domain. Inevitably there are a number of technical questions such as:
- What analytics technologies should we use?
- How can we optimise algorithms?
- How do we assure the right levels of cyber security?
- What kinds of inputs of data and potential sensors might we need?
Yet using data and analytics is never just about a particular technology or platform: it is about focusing on what the business needs to achieve and transforming the business to enable it to get there. This means a technology-agnostic mindset is important, with the ability to deploy new data and analytics technologies alongside existing organizational tools or services from third party providers.
Age of data
Just a few years ago, reporting on key performance indicators and key financial metrics to inform operations and strategic planning was the norm for businesses. It was broadly based on universally recognized and standard accounting and business management processes.
Now we are seeing business decisions directly informed through the use of real-time data analytics. This is the fundamental change in business. So not only can those traditional metrics be sliced and diced in real time instead of through an antiquated monthly report mechanism, but businesses are scaling up analytics for the age of the mobile hyper-connected customer. New challenges are pushing established organisations beyond just integrating multiple data sources on a single platform. They now need to achieve the real-time flexibility, agility in the management supply chains and fast times-to-market to meet the expectations of their similarly-informed customers.
What we know for certain is that tomorrow, insight will be richer, solutions smarter and products better as a result. Expertise can provide guidance while always keeping focused on the unwavering principle for enterprises everywhere: following the customer. It’s all about keeping the momentum to be data-driven and unlock innovation and competitive edge across the enterprise.
Digital Vision for Supercomputing & Big Data
This article is part of the Atos Digital Vision for Supercomputing & Big Data opinion paper. The challenge for any organisation is how to turn data into tangible advantage. Becoming truly data-driven is perhaps our most definitive step into the digital age. In our Digital Vision for Supercomputing & Big Data, we explore the implications for organisations and what lies ahead.