Great expectations, transforming your organisation through analytics

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Great expectations, transforming your organisation through analytics

The sheer amount of data needed by the modern enterprise is simply staggering. No longer is this data sourced exclusively by back office business systems. Instead, data is generated by the devices which monitor our factories, manage our warehouses and track our assets. These sources are supplemented by external data which provide unique insights in to the experiences of our customers. By utilising modern data management and analytics techniques, they offer the potential to transform your organisation, identifying new opportunities and introducing efficiencies.

Of course, in its raw form, some of this data is little more than white noise. Take the data feed from a pressure sensor. This unstructured data is almost impossible for the average business decision maker to decode. Now, take that data, store it on mass and grant access to a team of data scientists. Suddenly you are able to unlock opportunities for operational efficiencies, reduce downtime and create an optimal servicing schedule. Next, take some external data, such as that provided by social media sources. On its own, this provides interesting insights in to how our customers feel and interact with our products and services. Take this a step further and combine this with more traditional information from an ERP system. Suddenly, we can gain valuable insight in to the impact a manufacturing or procurement decision has had on customer satisfaction. Perhaps that marginally cheaper spring wasn’t as cost effective as we thought!

Simply put. Our business partners are looking to us, the data professionals, to leverage data to transform their business, identify new capabilities and create differentiated offerings.

Looking at the Data Analytics landscape today, it can be difficult to make a choice on how best to approach these seemingly complex challenges. Is the latest technology offering by vendor X the best way to go?

I recall a conversation with a CIO at the most recent Gartner Data & Analytics Summit.


“I have a team of experienced analysts telling me not to throw away everything we have done over the past 10 years, while a new team of graduates are asking me to embrace a new unstructured approach. All I know is that they are both right”.


While those charged with creating a modern data architecture are considering the best way to build out their futureproof platform, the business is getting impatient and quietly working away to create their own analytics. After all, vendor X has a wide range of high quality end user tools that are available on the market.

While data silos on their own are not necessarily a problem, consider the impact of GDPR which mandates a wide range of additional regulatory controls. Will those point solutions account for such complex standards? Who is responsible for the integrity and governance of your data estate?

Finally, how do we begin to address these opportunities and challenges while maintaining the systems we already have in place? It’s not as if we don’t have our current business as usual activities to think about!
My advice, keep it simple;

  • Focus on business value and real business outcomes – ignore the temptation to get distracted by the latest shiny tool, just because it looks interesting.
  • Empower your decision makers and business users – they are your customers, but also your eyes and ears. Instead of trying to constrain them, support them and make them a virtual part of your team.
  • Ensure you have a flexible architecture – you will need to be able to accommodate rapid changes in direction and very diverse workloads. Microsoft’s Azure Data platform offers a wide range of comprehensive components to address all of your needs in one common framework
  • Be prepared to react to changing business needs – isolated pockets of data exist throughout your organisation today and while they are not always a problem, they can highlight an unfulfilled demand for data services.
  • Seriously consider automation to accelerate development – to achieve all of this within a reasonable timeframe, make sure you have the right tools and approach to deliver rapid results.
  • Some final thoughts – Microsoft, SAP and Adobe demonstrate their commitment to solving some of the challenges covered in this article, through the recently announced Open Data Initiative

If you would like to know more about our approach, some of our Analytics offerings like our Data Modernisation Service, or just share your thoughts on this topic, please contact us at

Paul Saxton

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