UPDATED 15:30 EDT / APRIL 22 2021

BIG DATA

Avoiding the ‘data landfill’ for streamlined digital transformation

Data is critical to decision-making in modern business, but it remains one of the most difficult resources to harness. Some 97% of organizations report that data-related challenges are limiting the information available to businesses, according to a new BizOps survey on the state of digital business.

Intimidating though it may seem, the adoption of some practices can help companies make data-driven decisions that support business outcomes, according to Kieran Taylor (pictured, left), chief marketing officer and head of marketing at Broadcom Inc.

“I think you get out of this data landfill conundrum by first understanding what questions to ask,” he said. “It’s not algorithms; it’s not analytics; it’s not math that is going to solve this problem. It is really, really understanding your customer’s issues and what questions to ask of the data.”

Taylor; Kevin Surace (pictured, center), chairman and chief technology officer at Appvance.ai; and Isaac Sacolick (pictured, right), president of StarCIO and contributing editor at InfoWorld, spoke with Lisa Martin, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during the Chaos to Clarity: BizOps for Digital Transformation event. They discussed how companies can leverage their data to gain insights, facilitate digital transformations and face the challenges of creating business metrics alongside a corporate culture.  (* Disclosure below.)

Data manipulation is an interactive process

The questions to ask of data should be related to the business results enterprises are looking for, a core strategy of the BizOps model, according to Surace. Specifically, the questions should refer to business outcomes that can be acted upon, which are the actionable items in the data.

“If I was an automaker and I had lots of sensors on the road … I could make driving systems better. That is an obvious place to start,” Surace said. “But I could also potentially use that to change people’s insurance and say … ‘If you drive in a certain way, based on the sensors, you get a lower insurance rate.’”

What most organizations struggle with is the interactive process of data manipulation, necessary to obtain better results, according to Sacolick. This process involves discovering the data, learning from what it contains, addressing quality issues and inserting new data sources if necessary. “How do you put it together so that you can peel the onion back and start looking at data and getting insights out of it?’” he added.

In addition to defining the questions the company wants answers to and then identifying what those data inputs should be, there are three more steps in the process for harnessing the data, according to Taylor.

One is to evaluate the data that the enterprise has, and identify what is missing and what needs to be sought. Second, in the fetching phase, it is necessary to think about the measurement method and the frequency to automate this collection whenever possible.

“And then, the last step is really the people component of the formula,” Taylor explained. “You need to identify stakeholders that will own those business key performance indicators and even communicate them within the organization. That human element is sometimes forgotten, and it’s really important.”

Creating business metrics is a challenge

Among the challenges faced by enterprises is the creation of business metrics from data — 68% of business leaders state that their companies have difficulties with this, according to the BizOps survey.

Although every company has some gap in data, the information available is often enough to get started and create business metrics, according to Surace. Regarding sales data, for example, it is possible to learn from the performance of the past few years to improve this number.

“And yes, there are problems with the data and there are holes in the data … and there’s missing data. It doesn’t matter,” Surace stated. “There’s a lot of data around sales, so you can just start there and probably drive some top-line growth just doing what you’re already doing, but doing it better and learning how to do it better.”

If the lack of metrics is a problem for companies, so is the excess. Organizations that try to create metrics around each part of the operation end up having a hard time knowing what to prioritize.

“The art of this is management coming back and saying, ‘What are the metrics?’ … and picking a couple in each category, certainly starting with the customer, certainly looking at sales, but then also looking at operations and looking at quality and looking at risk, and say to the organization that these are the two or three we’re going to focus on in the next six months,” Sacolick said. “That’s what simplifies it for organizations.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Chaos to Clarity: BizOps for Digital Transformation event. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the Chaos to Clarity: BizOps for Digital Transformation event. Neither the BizOps Coalition, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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