Data Democratization – A Journey (Part 1)

One of the business books I find useful is, Decide & Deliver: 5 Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization.  Their research included surveys with 760 companies and was geographically and demographically dispersed.  Their findings indicate that decision effectiveness is correlated with financial results. The results indicate that top-quintile companies grew revenues by 5% more per year on average than the rest of the of their sample.  The results also showed that average companies could realistically strive for gains of between 2.5 and 3.5 times their current decision effectiveness.  As part of the surveys, information was gathered about roadblocks to decisions. One of the areas of decision health was related to data and was labeled data dysfunction.  Data dysfunction hinders people because the needed information isn’t available at the right time or not useful for decisions.  One of the recommendations is to “make information simple, accurate, timely, and accessible.”   Makes sense.  This leads to the subject of this blog, democratizing data.

Focus on better decisions, faster. Democratize the data needed to support those decisions.

From my perspective, democratizing data is part of a journey toward better decisions.  Democratizing data changes the way data is consumed and applied, acting as an enabler.  This journey involves making “fit for use” data available to more people along with the software applications needed for business users to analyze data.  The journey involves a mix of the right people, technology and processes and is guided by strategies and implementation tactics.  As it is with all journeys worth taking, there are commitments that must be made to the journey.  These commitments include change management, business culture shifts, time and resources allocations and budget.  So, why take the journey?

In practical terms, democratizing data is not the objective.  We might put forth effort and fund the initiatives of data democratization, but only if we strongly believe that this will result in a new future of data-driven decisions.  When compared to decisions taken today, the future scenario should enable better decisions made faster; as compared to following policy driven or expert “gut” decisions.  Investing in democratizing data needs to have a wide range of influence over many decisions across the organization.  Learn more about the architectural aspects of democratizing data on our blog.  Having the data and capable software tools must create more opportunities for improving decisions.  The objective is to excel at decision making.  The reason for doing this is to realize revenue growth that is 5%  per year higher than your competition performing at average.

Let’s look at the challenge this way, if we have a clear understanding of what decisions should be supported by data ,we will clearly know what data should be democratized.  Many of my discussions with business leaders and IT professionals focus on the data first.  In my opinion, this approach is a little backward.  More emphasis needs to be placed on making better decisions faster and identifying the data needed to support those decisions and not the other way around. 

Consider starting on this journey.  The destination of accelerated revenue growth through better decisions, faster, is worth the trip.  Create a roadmap! Along the way, evaluate your business decisions that have an impact and identify the data needed to support those decisions.  Safe travels!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I discuss the journey one company is taking.


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