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Who Benefits From Democratized Data Analytics?

Technology advancement is fundamentally an act of democratization–once-specialized capabilities become cheaper, simpler, and more accessible to all, fostering broad adoption and the development of creative new applications and solutions to long-standing problems. 

The same should be true of data and analytics – but so far, it hasn’t been. The promise of BI was to put the power of data into the hands of everyday people so that everyone could make smarter, data-driven decisions. We know, however, that we have yet to really see this promise come true.

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Although self-service analytics put reporting tools in the hands of business users, we still largely rely on specialists to interpret and contextualize our charts and dashboards–and for many of us, to build them.

We are yet to truly democratize data analytics and seamlessly deliver insights from data into the hands of everyone.

It’s time to change that, and thanks to advancements in automation and AI, we are beginning to see incredible examples of what people are capable of when they actually have the power of data in their own hands.

Democratized Data in Action

Imagine an airline where every employee uses insights from data to make decisions throughout the day. Front-line employees, such as gate agents, receive relevant KPI alerts no matter their physical location. Executives discuss and iterate on different policies in real-time using live, interactive data. Safety managers predict which airplane parts are at risk of failure and proactively bring the planes in for inspection.

Don’t believe it? T

his airline actually exists today.

It’s Air Canada.

Rather than continuing to centralize insights from data in dashboards, analytics tools, and other data specialists, Air Canada took the opposite approach: They used AI to extract those insights and infuse analytics into many different facets of their business operations. Importantly, they took advantage of the devices their employees were already using, such as mobile devices, smartwatches, and even smart speakers.

Employees no longer needed to pause their work to find a computer, sign in to a portal, and wade through dashboards, emails, and PDFs in search of data. Instead, the company pushed the relevant insights to them, personalizing the data and the delivery method based on the employee’s roles and where they work.

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This is democratized data analytics in action. Everyone in the company makes smarter decisions throughout the day without ever leaving their existing workflows or having to learn entire new skill sets. For Air Canada, this has improved both their bottom line but has also improved safety for its employees, its customers, and all airline travelers.

Business Analytics Is Stuck

If democratizing data analytics provides so many benefits to companies like Air Canada, why don’t other companies follow suit?

The answer is that it requires a fundamental evolution in how we approach analytics in the first place. Most companies today ask their knowledge workers to make data-driven decisions by first learning additional tools. These tools come in the form of standalone dashboards and self-service analytics apps, which despite improving on the days of submitting data requests to IT, still require training, upskilling, and sometimes even enrolling in certification courses. This takes too much time that knowledge workers don’t have, and it often doesn’t even work.

If we truly want to democratize data analytics, we have to enable knowledge workers to make data-driven decisions without learning an entirely new discipline.

Like Air Canada, we need to extract the insights from data and infuse them into workers’ existing workflows, apps, and devices. Imagine a CRM that crunches data to automatically suggest which accounts to contact, a customer service platform that proactively identifies accounts likely to churn, or a retail app that detects shifts in purchasing trends and recommends changes in inventory.

All of these examples empower knowledge workers to make smarter decisions without them pausing to dig through separate dashboards for insights. In short, we bring the insights from data directly to people, and not the other way around.

Creating new opportunities with analytics

It’s understandable that many people wonder if data and analytics will turn us into optimization robots that act however the data tells us to act, but the truth is precisely the opposite. Like other technologies, when we put analytics and insights from data into the hands of everyone, we all benefit. In fact, we’re beginning to see people use analytics in creative new ways and even invent entire new products and services.

 

Take Personica, for example, a restaurant marketing platform that has helped restaurants adapt and become digital businesses overnight in the midst of a global pandemic. Or Freckle, an education company empowering schools to understand student progress using data. Or Ava, a company providing a fertility bracelet powered by analytics and AI, has helped 50,000 women become pregnant without invasive treatment.

This is what’s possible when we democratize data analytics. These examples aren’t possible because of specialist reporting teams in IT or self-service BI tools delivered to business users… They are possible because everyday people simply have the insights from data to make smart decisions.

This is the future of analytics, and the most innovative companies will help usher it in now. They will put insights from data in the hands of everyone, where they already are, and in doing so, everyone will benefit, perhaps in ways none of us could have previously imagined.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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