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January 22, 2020

6 Steps to BI Transformation for the Busy CDO

By: Keelin McDonell

Get on the path to understanding

For a role that barely existed just a decade ago, the chief data officer (CDO) may well be the most critical member of the C-suite in enterprise organizations. Gone are the days when data was simply a byproduct of business activities. Indeed, nowadays data is not just a tool but a critical corporate asset — and a core part of the very products and services that a company delivers.

Given how important the CDO’s mission is, it’s not surprising that business intelligence (BI) doesn’t always rise to the top of her to-do list. After all, BI technology has existed for several decades, with IT running the show for most of that time. What could be left to do?

As it turns out, a lot. While BI is a firmly entrenched enterprise technology, adoption rates among business users have lagged. Some studies show that log-in rates are as low as 22%

Put another way: that big investment in data is going to waste if business users aren’t accessing and understanding it. And Gartner estimates that “50% of organizations…lack sufficient AI and data literacy skills to achieve business value.”

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We recommend these six simple steps for CDOs (or aspiring data leaders) who want to transform the way their organization uses BI.

Create a Culture of (Data) Insight

Much has been made in recent years about creating data-driven cultures within the enterprise. And we couldn’t agree more! However, we would challenge CDOs to go further and push their teams to create an environment focused on data insight. Most BI deployments fail not because of a lack of data but due to an absence of actionable insight from that data. In other words, make sure you’re giving your team a reason to log in to that dashboard.

Deliver ETL at the speed of business

Back at the dawn of BI, one of the main challenges IT functions faced was transforming messy data into formats that could become those charts and graphs that business users love to look at. And this process could be quite laborious. More recently, though, a number of low-code and no-code solutions have allowed business analysts to extract, transform, and load (ETL) data on the fly. Make sure your team has access to these tools if you want them to be truly agile (and give your IT folks some relief from the endless back-and-forth).

Adopt Data Quality Management

Anyone who’s worked with data for more than five minutes has no doubt heard the ubiquitous phrase “garbage in, garbage out” (GIGO). For years, data professionals simply acknowledged the reality that much of the critical data we depend on in our businesses was simply subpar. 

Recently, though, a movement has arisen called Data Quality Management (DQM). This simple framework provides a means of profiling, rating, and repairing data in a consistent and repeatable way. And given that Gartner found that poor data quality control cost respondents over $14 million annually, this initiative should be on any CDO’s list.

Explore a cloud model

The cloud is nothing new. But enterprise adoption of the cloud (or hybrid cloud model) is. 

Security, governance, and convenience of cloud technologies has come a long way in the past five years. And the cost of ownership for on-premise software can be very high. Now is the time for CDOs to evaluate whether their BI platform needs to be deployed on-premises. And conveniently, hybrid models offer an option for organizations that want to explore using the cloud for less sensitive data while keeping other information on their own servers.

Expand into augmented analytics

While visualizations offered a step up from staring at spreadsheets, many BI professionals found that there was still some room for improvement. Enter augmented analytics. Typically this term encompasses some combination of machine learning (ML), natural language generation (NLG), or other automation features that make BI more insightful. If you haven’t yet explored augmented analytics, it is almost certainly a sure-fire way to improve your end user’s experience within your BI platform of choice.

Tell the Story of Your Data

Ultimately, a CDO’s job is to manage and deliver a business’ most important asset to employees, customers, and shareholders — its data. Alas, very few of these people are going to be data scientists. In fact, Gartner found that “poor data literacy” is one of the top three roadblocks to success for CDO’s within their organizations. 

What this ultimately means is that a key responsibility of the CDO is to find a format to communicate data that works for everyone. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: language. Products, like our solution Quill, take data from dashboards and summarize the key insights — it’s concise, actionable, and universal. And what could be more transformative than that?

Tell us how are you transforming BI in your organization.

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