The data consumers within your organization aren’t a homogeneous group, so you must adapt your data management solutions accordingly. At one end of the spectrum is the ideal, “one-size-fits-all” solution. At the other end is a customized set of capabilities for each individual user that seems ideal, but is unworkable. How then do you incrementally approach the ideal solution?
The most effective data solutions are formed by generalizing your user community into a few key groups by skillset and role objectives, data consumption habits and applied tools associated with those data needs, and then deploying the right set of solutions for each group. While each company may be a little different, the following user segments are where to start for most companies.
Data Professionals – These are your data scientists, data analysts and statisticians with specialized training in how to manage and analyze data. They typically need access to detailed raw data and a set of robust capabilities to aggregate, analyze and interpret it. They may employ newer capabilities, such as machine learning and AI, to identify trends and make projections. It’s imperative they are able to ingest text, time-series and structured and unstructured data through large-scale data ingestion, for example, Spark; leverage their favorite programming language APIs, for example, C++ or Python, favorite IDEs, such as Jupyter, and algorithm libraries, such as R-Lib and Tensorflow, as well as visualization tools, such as Tableau.
Business Analysts – These are the business users with data-intensive job roles, such as finance, operations planning, HR and administration. Business analysts typically don’t need access to raw data, but instead data feeds for the specific data sets with which they are working. They typically use analytics tools, such as Microsoft Excel, Tableau, Qlik Sense and Power BI, to sort, categorize and summarize data and provide insights to inform business decisions related to business operations.
Data Curators – These are the people within your organization who generate reports and dashboards for executive consumption. Like business analysts, they typically leverage data feeds and the tools they use are often focused on understanding data quality; managing control thresholds; and creating data visualizations, dashboards and reports. They are seen as closer to the business and program execution.
Executives – The leaders and decision makers in your organization are focused on understanding the big picture, so they can direct the organization’s resources effectively. They often have little experience creating, analyzing and curating data, but have extensive experience interpreting data, graphs and reports to determine their relevance to and impact on your organization. Recently, many executives have shifted from using tools, such as flip-charts and PowerPoint slides with embedded Excel Spreadsheets, to interactive dashboards as their primary means of consuming and interacting with company data.
Deploy the right solution for each target audience
Each of your target-user communities will have a unique set of solution needs. It is important to keep in mind that a data solution must include both the data at scale and with extensive variations as well as the tools for consuming and working with the data. Since many of the user communities will interact with each other, forming a data value chain that transforms raw and stages of processed data into actionable business insights, it is important, therefore, the tools and data solutions interact well with each other across the entire organization.
For example, executives must be able to consume easily the trends and projections your data scientists generate and the analytics your business teams create must be aggregated into enterprise dashboards. Based on executive feedback and direction, those algorithms must then be deployed downstream at the point of action embedded in and aligned with the business operations to streamline and improve them. You can learn more about the range of Actian data management solutions here.