How Data Democracy Raises a Company’s Digital IQ

by   |   August 12, 2014 5:30 am   |   0 Comments

Dr. Rado Kotorov, Chief Innovation Officer, Information Builders

Dr. Rado Kotorov, Chief Innovation Officer, Information Builders

The Digital IQ survey is an interesting annual report from PwC that takes a close look at not only how companies are using technology, but also whether the technology they are using is helping the business become smarter.

This year’s report found that while nearly every company claims to be a digital enterprise, only 20 percent of respondents rated their business as having an “excellent” digital IQ—defined as “understanding the value of technology and weaving it into the fabric of their organization.”

Why the wide gap? If every business is using state-of-the-art technology—tapping trends like cloud, big data, BI/analytics and data visualization—shouldn’t all companies be marching toward a higher digital IQ and getting better and better at what they do?

The answer, quite simply, is no.

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That’s because even when the ingredients for a digitally-savvy, data-driven organization are in place—best-of-breed BI software, a great IT department, a team of data analysts, and forward-thinking executive leadership—raising an organization’s digital IQ won’t happen on its own.

The key to addressing this issue is analyzing the way in which information is shared. The most exceptional companies are those best situated to disseminate information across the enterprise. This means leaving behind the approach of the past, in which BI was sequestered to the offices of the data analysts and dispensed without much insight into what information knowledge workers and other non-technical users needed.

Digital IQ Rises with Data Democracy

BI and analytics technology has evolved to enable all stakeholders to make data-driven decisions, regardless of their level of technical savvy. This self-service BI access eliminates guesswork and makes the entire organization more successful by taking the insight historically preserved for a small group of power users enterprise-wide. In addition, this approach reduces the burden on IT often associated with traditional BI reports, freeing resources to focus on more strategic initiatives.

A key component of cultivating digital IQ is ensuring that information is accurate and reliable, regardless of its format or source. As such, organizations must implement a data governance strategy in tandem with other initiatives to ensure the success of self-service BI. As more workers rely on enterprise data, companies without data-governance plans risk providing an inaccurate information snapshot that could cripple the business.

A Single View of the Truth

A surefire way a company can lower its digital IQ is making critical business decisions based on data that may be outdated, incomplete, or incorrect. Master data management (MDM), in combination with BI and other technologies, is a path for companies to create a single, accurate reference point for all common data elements. Achieving a “single view of the truth” by improving information accuracy and data exchange within and beyond the enterprise can improve efficiency and productivity. This is possible if an MDM initiative is adopted as a long-term priority.

Many MDM initiatives are destined to fail because companies mistakenly approach them as a single, short-term project. To be truly effective and deliver substantial and tangible results, MDM must be a broad-reaching, long-term strategy that combines policies and procedures with advanced technology solutions like data integration, quality management, and governance. Leaders from both the IT department and key functional areas of the business also must be actively involved for a master data management strategy to succeed.

Self-Service BI Apps for On-the-Job Decision Making

A self-service BI environment for end-users is enabled through IT but fostered through a data-driven culture. Front-line workers represent the majority of the BI user base in many organizations, and these individuals need the ability to create and share information using BI applications that provide fast, easy, and direct answers to specific questions.

Increasingly, organizations realize the pervasive nature of apps and that the evolution of app stores has revolutionized software. It’s changing how people use and share information, and the average worker strongly prefers to work with apps over tools. Because these apps are intuitive and require no technical savvy, they are extremely valuable in promoting wider adoption.

In this way, companies can empower their business users with faster and more interactive ways to get information, check for feedback, or obtain answers to questions. Sharing data in this manner also opens the door for next-generation BI portals that are personalized to allow users to choose which information they want to see, how they want to arrange it on a dashboard, and how they interact with it.

By offering users unparalleled ease and convenience—giving them what they need when and how they need it—organizations can encourage all stakeholders to take advantage of business intelligence in new and exciting ways.

The ability to process large volumes of data, ensure data quality, and integrate data to make information available to users at every level is critical to agility in the market. BI platforms are designed to empower organizations to interpret and react to data efficiently and effectively while making BI ubiquitous for users to allow them to positively impact the business by resolving customer issues, identifying market shifts, and eliminating internal inefficiencies.

Dr. Rado Kotorov is Chief Innovation Officer at Information Builders.

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