I’ve been working with data now for twenty years. Sometimes that’s hard for me to believe, but it’s the truth. And so is this: While much has changed since I first learned to write some structured query language on an InterBase database, much has also stayed the same. Indeed, just as in years past, even the people and organizations with the most current tech stack are constantly trying to modernize their data and analytics function, and with the current landscape of the working world, the shift we are seeing is seismic. More than ever, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed why data is critical to make fast and effective decisions in this new business environment.
“Trying to modernize” is the operative sentence there, because it makes for the actual lesson here. Modernizing is not just about buying the latest technology; it is about how all your tools fit together and how you can adopt new technology into your ecosystem.
From my personal experience, the traditional way of “doing” Business Intelligence (BI) isn’t working anymore. It has become demoralizing and emotionally draining—and yet the need for effective BI has never been greater. According to Dresner Advisory Services’ 2020 Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence Market Study, 54% of enterprises say Cloud BI is critical or very important to their current and future initiatives. The interest is accelerating further as COVID-19 has made remote working the norm.
The good news is there is a pathway to BI success. It involves having what we call BI leverage. How do you get it? By taking a look at your tools that are important components of any business.
Many business leaders have invested in multiple data tools and platforms. Each may have been carefully selected, and each may have been chosen to meet a specific business or data problem. But taken as a whole, they could actually add up to less than the sum of their parts. BI leverage is about connecting these investments and amplifying their power. We see the data-driven future come to life in the midst of this pandemic. Rapid access to data at scale is becoming even more critical as companies are faced with new challenges and opportunities they’ve never faced before.
Here are four strategies BI professionals could employ to address company-wide technology management and ownership.
- Leverage application programming interfaces (API) to integrate systems so they can talk to each other and remain consistent. This can mean pulling data or pushing data between systems to encourage synergy.
- Introduce low and no-code tools, so BI enhancement is available to individuals at all levels of the organization. In the past, low/no-code has been used primarily by disruptive technology startups; however, in light of the current situation, their use becomes more prominent as we see the future of work arriving.
- Know when to adapt, not renew. Often, the problems businesses face don’t change as fast as the technology offered to solve them. Efficient scaling and augmentation of existing technology is often the hardest part of solving BI challenges, rather than continually adding more new technology in its own silo.
- Thoughtfully acknowledge when it is time to retire a tool. In doing so, be empathetic to the potential impact it may have on your workforce and/or team structures, and address the pain that may come with losing a tool.
You need the flexibility between tools and human resources with different skill sets. The flexibility to respond to a crisis like COVID-19, or the next change to shift your business or even our world is also equally crucial.
Traditional BI doesn’t work in an unprecedented era when the world is moving at breakneck speed. So, the faster BI professionals can examine how their tools are working and begin implementing steps to address the inefficiencies—the better off they will be, and the better off the business will be. Companies that invest in data-driven decision-making tools and practices are those that reap the rewards. The one thing we know for certain is that the world will continue to change. Investing in BI leverage will make sure your data and your organization can change with it.