According to a recent report from research firm Gartner, “organizations that effectively support business technologists are 2.6 times more likely to accelerate digital transformation.” It makes sense: Because these professionals exist in the space between IT departments and non-tech teams, they can design and deploy solutions that deliver on both business and technology objectives.
But achieving these goals comes with a challenge: effectively managing the exponentially-increasing volume and variety of data created by business operations and customer interactions.
The Evolving Role of Data in Business Technology
The democratization and commercialization of technology brought IT into the mainstream. While tech professionals remain bastions of specialized and in-depth knowledge, the evolving impact of cloud data platforms, business intelligence tools, and mobile applications have changed how users perceive IT and how C-suites leverage technology to achieve business goals.
Business technologists help mediate and manage this new environment by leveraging data to develop new approaches and implement new strategies that benefit business operations. While rapidly-growing data sets offer the insight technologists need to fulfill their role as business facilitators, however, this is only possible by addressing — and overcoming — emerging data challenges.
The Biggest Data Challenges for Business Technologists
Big data in the 21st century is regularly compared to the resource of oil 300 years ago—vast, largely untapped, and possessing massive potential for change. Much like 18th-century drilling pioneers, however, businesses often find no clear roadmap on making the best use of this resource to directly impact business decisions. While cloud-based data warehousing and analytics solutions offer the potential for positive outcomes, they’re only effective if companies know where to put digital shovels in the ground—and how deep they should dig.
As a result, five data challenges are now top-of-mind for business technologists.
1) Automating data-heavy manual tasks
Manual tasks remain a source of frustration for many businesses. Not only are these tasks inefficient, but the volume of data entry required significantly increases the chance of errors or omissions. As a result, C-suite members often tap business technologists to develop automated approaches capable of collecting and curating data at scale. In practice, this frequently takes the form of robotic process automation (RPA) implementation and rule-building to help streamline these tasks at scale.
2) Optimizing real-time analytics operations
Analytics empowers on-demand decision-making—but only if businesses have access to the right data at the right time. As cross-department facilitators, technologists are now tasked with optimizing these operations, which includes finding and deploying tools capable of handling multiple data sources, and designing processes that provide business departments with relevant, real-time data.
3) Integrating customer data across networks
Customer data provides insight into buyer behavior and makes it possible to improve business decision-making. Ideally, companies are looking for “customer 360,” or a 360-degree view of the customer experience from their first brand encounter to website and app engagement to purchase and any follow-up service interactions. Business technologists are uniquely equipped to help address this need. Still, they require both C-suite support and data warehouse solutions able to find and analyze data, no matter where it resides across business networks.
4) Bridging the gap to “small data”
While big data remains a business priority, businesses are starting to see the value of “small data”, which leverages more focused data sets and machine learning (ML) algorithms to produce real-time insights that speak to current trends and inform short-term decision-making. For technologies to bridge the gap, however, it’s not enough to simply repurpose existing data tools. Instead, businesses need solutions capable of handling structured and unstructured data sources to produce a clear picture of current events.
5) Ensuring data integrity
Finally, there’s a growing need for technologists to help ensure data integrity across the enterprise. Given the multiple use cases for single data sets, businesses must prioritize the consistency of information across operations to create a single source of truth. Here, business technologists benefit from tools that deliver visibility across cloud and edge data sources anywhere, anytime.
Delivering on Data Potential
Data makes it possible for business technologists to facilitate IT operations and deliver actionable C-suite insight. Achieving these aims, however, requires a combination of cross-departmental communication skills and big data tools capable of increasing automation, optimizing analytics, integrating customer data, bridging the small data gap, and delivering on data integrity.