A recent report from Forrester Consulting joins numerous others in showing that companies with mature big data and analytics strategies are two times more likely to say they were seeing significant improvements in growing revenue or other similar benefits. This has shown that the value of data is increasingly clear.
These companies have come to recognise that data has value even in an uncertain economy, and when mined properly, can be used to create value, drive a competitive advantage and empower true business change.
A major challenge however is that, the amount of data available is continually growing – the IDC predicts that by 2025, we will be creating and replicating over 160 zettabyte of data, a tenfold increase since 2016 – and fast outpacing our ability to gain insight from it.
In order to mine all of that information, the data leaders of tomorrow need a strategy to unlock value across the entirety of this treasure trove, and quickly. They need to find their golden ratio of people, data and machines.
People are at the heart of every data-driven business. Just as jewellers increase the value of gold by turning it into a decorative ornament, staff skilled in statistical analysis and machine learning within the enterprise can get more value from data by turning it into insights.
Finding the right talent, and enough of it, is key to any business seeking success in today’s data-driven economy, and it continues to be a challenge. While a key focus is on finding data scientists, they aren’t the only resource needed.
Data-savvy business managers who can understand the organisation and can leverage analytics are equally as necessary. From their knowledge of sales and marketing, for example, they are well placed to better understand campaign performance. In Human Resources, it is about seeing patterns in turnover and talent progression. In Finance, it’s about visualising profit and growth drivers.
The role of machines, as a balance to people, cannot be underestimated. Technology gives businesses the ability to collect, collate and connect data – and thanks to cloud, this can be done at a scale, speed and cost that was previously unaffordable to all but the largest and most dedicated enterprises. In fact, Forrester found that those companies who move more into the cloud for big data analytics achieve greater innovation, increased integration, and higher levels of security.
These platforms also provide an ideal foundation for data labs by providing a complete and elastic analytics environment where teams can experiment with data, collaborate and share insights.
In tandem with cloud we are also seeing the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, which are helping organisations large and small learn faster than before. It has demonstrated the potential to continually improve the effectiveness of decision-making and business processes at a rate unachievable by prior methods.
Finally there is data. Simply having data isn’t enough – businesses must become wholly driven by it, using it to anticipate the future, enrich every interaction, and answer rising consumer demands for personalised products and services.
Already, data-driven businesses are forging a new path, embodied by the meteoric rise of disruptive brands with business models built on smart data use.
Startups in Nigeria have taken notice of the opportunities opened up by harnessing the power of data. Kudi.ai has developed a chatbot that uses AI to understand user requests, drive conversations, understand user spending habits and prevent fraud, and Aajoh uses AI to help individuals that send a list of their symptoms via text, audio and photographs, to diagnose their medical condition. Zenvus Technology uses remote IoT sensors and cloud computing to help farmers with data-driven advice on improving crop health and yields, as well as access to lending, insurance and commodity trading services.
Neither people, machines, nor data, can successfully mine the data gold rush in isolation. But by working together, companies can tackle business challenges, capture new opportunities and enjoy enormous rewards, as we’ve seen in the success of tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent in China, as well as startups in emerging economies that are leveraging data to rethink traditional business processes.
We are now at the stage where organisations can affordably and effectively empower their people to turn information into insight; collect and connect data from within and outside the business; and utilise the best technology and machines to accelerate and augment what humans can do.
Bringing these three elements together is key to uncovering more value in a hyper-connected world. By achieving the golden ratio of the right people, the right data and the right machines, companies can unlock the full potential of data and be best poised to seek its fortune in today’s data gold rush.