• February 7, 2017

Free the Data: Using All Information to Make Decisions

Enterprise decision-makers need to access internal and external data.

By Joe Hill, Analytics Chief Technologist, 
Analytics & Data Management, and Fellow, Enterprise Services 

Revolutions in the way information is accessed and mined for value have driven megatrends that marked dramatic, long-term historical shifts. These trends exploded over several different periods of time.

  • In the 15th century, Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press completely changed the world as more and more books were printed at ever-cheaper prices.
  • By the 1870s, the telegraph was transforming the way we conveyed information; for the first time, news about events near and far was instantly accessible to the general public. During the middle of the twentieth century, the telephone, broadcasting, and sound and image recording technologies brought information and entertainment into the home.
  • Then came the computer age and the internet. Digital technologies in the second half of the 20th century dramatically transformed access to, and the processing, storing, and transmitting of, information in all forms—from text to video.

But these megatrends may pale in comparison to what’s coming next.

The Data-Driven Enterprise

SMAC—social, mobile, analytics, and cloud—plus the Internet of Things are creating ecosystems in which information is autonomously accessed and acted on in real time. To survive in this environment, enterprises must adapt by transforming into data-driven organizations. And to be data-driven, organizational teams must have access to data. What does this mean?

In the early 2000s, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos issued an edict: Every team within the company had to interact using web services. That meant that if marketing needed some data from finance, it had to get it using an application program interface (API). This leveled silos by compelling teams to assess what resources they had and make them accessible via APIs.

It also forced the development of an infrastructure that was not only made available to Amazon, but also to the market. It transformed the architecture Amazon built for selling and shipping books into a repurposable computing platform and a browsable market for web services. Today, these services are utilized by some of the world’s top enterprises.

Uncovering the Big Picture

To keep pace with the future, enterprises must discard aging business models and generate new data-driven ones. How? They can start by aggregating data from multiple siloed sources into a combined, more holistic view. This enables you to see things that were previously hidden.

It isn’t easy. Data is often hoarded and tightly guarded as a source of power among corporate fiefdoms jockeying for status. Breaking down these silos is one of the major challenges facing enterprises.

Data for Every Decision

One thing enterprise leaders can do to generate and drive a data-driven culture is to ask what data a particular decision was based on. What they’ll often discover is that either decision-makers don’t know what the data were, or that a decision was based on some isolated, incomplete piece of information. This data-substantiation process forces decision-makers to consider the breadth of available data—both internally and externally—relevant to each issue.

For example, in the past enterprises were desperate for information about what their end customers thought about their products. Now through social media they have access to a continuous source of unfiltered customer information that is far more relevant and actionable than that from, say, surveys or focus groups.

Access to the wealth of existing data combined with analytics enables self-diagnosis, swift course corrections, predictive capabilities, and automation. In the past, IT was focused primarily on internal data and things that had already happened. Today, IT must be focus on external data and what will happen in the future.

Like this story? Read more about improving your business with analytics.

As Analytics Chief Technologist for Analytics & Data Management, Joe Hill helps define HPE’s Analytics Platform Reference Architecture, global methodologies for data science, and Actionable Analytics’ long-term strategy. Hill is also an Enterprise Services Fellow, a title reserved for exceptional technologists who set the standards for technical excellence and whose contributions shape our company and industry. He holds multiple patents and is passionate about the commercialization of innovation.