UPDATED 13:11 EDT / APRIL 19 2021


Data and analytics now becoming a core business function

Data and analytics is shifting to become a core business function, placing it among this year’s top trends according to Gartner.   

As organizations accelerate their digital business transformation efforts, business-domain-led D&A, data literacy, smarter data sharing and adaptive governance increasingly play key business roles. D&A has become core to how they serve their customers and optimize business processes and transform business operating models, rather than serving as a secondary activity done by information technology departments merely to support business outcomes.

Gartner anticipates that by 2025, 80% of D&A governance initiatives that focus on business outcomes rather than data standards will be considered as an essential business capability.

Events over the past year, too, have highlighted the critical role of D&A in helping to solve one of the world’s toughest modern-day challenges – the coronavirus pandemic. To drive societal impact and build resilient organizations that adapt to disruption-as-usual, D&A leaders must begin to think of themselves as business leaders in their enterprise.

Business leaders are taking more control and responsibility for their D&A functions, but they often underestimate the associated complexity and risks, in turn losing strategic business opportunities. Chief data officers who are fully engaged in setting business direction and goals can increase their contribution to business value by a factor of 2.6 times, according to Gartner’s Fifth Annual CDO Survey. However, operationalization is key to business impact, and that needs more than technology.

To be competitive using D&A, organizations need to leverage a broad range of data assets both internal and external to the enterprise. This means tighter collaboration than ever with diverse teams of people across the organization and beyond your borders. Growing the size and the reach of your data and analytics teams, bringing a diverse set of people into those teams — such as using Fusion Teams and Xops teams — with the right skills, and engaging more roles in a distributed way across the business, will be a necessary condition of success.

With proper skills comes an understanding of how to apply emerging technologies such as sensors, robots, digital twins, mobile technologies, the cloud and seamless collaboration, and more. Such technologies exist to serve business outcomes, so it is critical that the D&A created and consumed is managed as a business asset within a business function.

Key implications of D&A shifting to a business function

Managing business data as an asset is now an imperative business function in a digital world. Trust-based data sharing across data sources provides increased access to more data from more sources, enabling “knowable” insights that would not otherwise be discoverable.

It enables better business agility, responsiveness, resilience and sustainability in support of a composable enterprise. Data-sharing collaboration as a core competency, even with competitors, could yield both organizational competitive advantage and digital business acceleration.

Four recommendations for D&A leaders

  • Build balanced, collaborative organization models for D&A that enable both enterprise and business domain outcomes to be achieved.
  • Adopt a “must share data unless” approach to D&A, so that business leaders can have access to the right data at the right time.
  • Identify quantifiable success criteria for key business outcomes, and directly connect these with the data and analytics assets that enable them.
  • Upgrade your governance framework to use a semantic model that is based on trust.

The data-driven enterprise offers new business opportunities for market growth and competitive differentiation, through strengthened partner, supplier and customer relationships. As D&A increasingly shifts to becoming a core business function, the information silos that have previously acted as barriers to the data-driven enterprise may finally begin to break down.

Saul Judah is a vice president analyst at Gartner Inc. focusing on information governance, data quality and information strategy. He wrote this article for SiliconANGLE. He and other Gartner analysts will be at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit taking place virtually in the Americas May 4-6.

Image: Pexels/Pixabay

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