July 31, 2019

Data today is a lot like gunpowder once was. There are haves and have-nots, and when they go head-to-head, the have-nots are in a lot of trouble.

But unlike gunpowder, data is not always distributed to the entire army. For many companies, there are critical gaps that inhibit true data-backed decision making throughout the organization. In some cases, people who could benefit from the data don’t have access to it. In others, the data exists, but employees don’t have the means to understand it. Both are common problems that plague companies of all sizes across all industries.

One thing is for sure. If you have the data, but no means to use it, that’s about as good as having no data at all. So, what can companies do to make the data more accessible? Here are 4 ways they can bridge the gap:

1. Make Interpretation Easy for Everyone

The fact is, a lot of data is locked in spreadsheets, and spreadsheets still terrify a lot of people who can benefit from the data they provide. As the world adopts ever-increasing amounts of IoT-connected technology, companies will need to close the accessibility gap and make interpretation faster, so workers from the factory floor to the c-suite can read and react to data in real-time.

Dashboards and visualizations are a key cornerstone to the future of data. With the powerful speed and bandwidth of 5G looming, vast amounts of data from the production line all the way to the cash register will soon move seamlessly into business performance tools in real time and be transformed into immediate actionable intelligence. Creating quickly interpretable dashboards to support different job functions will help companies spread data-backed decision-making throughout every level of their organizations.

2. Make Decision-Driving Data Quickly Accessible

As AI and automation replace many labor-intensive manufacturing and production jobs, these aforementioned dashboards will support next-gen careers that are more focused on optimization and maintenance. Having quick access to a variety of data variables is a must for these roles.

Tools like handheld devices, heads-up-displays on visors and voice-assistants will enable these workers to instantly query the information they need to do their jobs. On the back-end of this equation, companies will rely on Data Lakes to store the mountains of data collected from IoT devices on the production line, plus ERP data, Big Data, point-of-sale data, service logs and other data points.

3. Make Data Tools A Hub for Collaboration

Data doesn’t make the decisions for you. Many business decisions are very complex, and require a human touch with data informing the specific variables of the equation. In a recent blog post, we talked about how the Toronto Raptors built a data-driven war room to help inform player personnel decisions. In their case, it helped them win an NBA championship. But the basic concept behind it is one any company can benefit from. There is incredible value to be gained in using data tools as a hub for collaboration.

By giving employees access to the information they need, when they need it, you’re creating a forum for intelligent discussion where pros and cons can be explored with hard evidence driving the ultimate decision.

4. Work from One Source of Truth

The final way to bridge the accessibility gap is a pain point many businesses feel today. Often times, decision makers will come to the table with completely different sets of data. For example, operations and sales might gauge inventory levels in two completely different ways. Without a single source of truth, it is hard to gauge exactly what you are discussing.

As data drives more and more of the real-time decision-making process in the years ahead, it is absolutely essential that everyone is working with the same data. A single source of truth ensures every member of your organization is working on the same page.

Catalyst is Already Doing It Today

Clients using our Catalyst software already see the benefits of greater accessibility today. How?

Dashboards and Visualizations: Catalyst users can quickly turn that data into easily understandable dashboards that are available on any device using Microsoft Power BI.

Data Accessibility: Using Catalyst’s powerful Data Lake and Query Tool, users can tap into any of their available data sources in to spot trends, anomalies and more.

Collaboration: We’re a firm believer in this collaborative approach, which is why our Catalyst software comes with unlimited user licenses and customizable role-based security.

Single Source of Truth: Catalyst ties back to the most granular level of data, eliminating the possibility of summary errors and inconsistent data definitions. 1+1+1=3, every time.

Going back to our opening analogy, gunpowder will only help if you distribute it to the soldiers. Catalyst ensures your employees are armed with the data they need to help your organization succeed.

What other ways do you think companies can help bridge the data accessibility gap? What other obstacles stand in the way of data backed decision making? We’d love to hear what you think. Sound off on social media now and join the conversation.