Eight years ago I co-authored "Information Revolution," one of the first books to describe a comprehensive approach to managing data for decision making. My co-authors and I were a little ahead of the game. At that time, social media was in its infancy, inexpensive data storage had not quite arrived, and processing speeds were a fraction of what they are today. Most importantly, the “one version of the truth” concept was in its infancy.
In the ensuing years, data growth has exploded and processing speeds have grown exponentially. Yet data is still stuck in silos. Organizations know they need one version of the truth, but they still struggle to get there. That’s why I’m thrilled that SAS global consultant Aiman Zeid has picked up where Information Revolution left off. “Business Transformation: A Roadmap for Maximizing Organizational Insights” is not so much the sequel to "Information Revolution," as an evolution of thinking on the ideas we first wrote about. And it comes from someone who has been helping companies around the globe get a handle on how to achieve one version of the truth.
Aiman has seen firsthand what happens when organizations focus exclusively on the technical component of data -- they don’t make much progress. The technology needed to become a data driven organization can’t work without people, processes and culture in place to accept and work with that technology. Aiman does a masterful job of explaining this.
Putting the spotlight on people and culture
I am particularly pleased that Aiman highlights the culture issue, and the role of data scientists. Employing a high-level data guru can break the bad habit of making decisions based on gut feel. A Chief Data Scientist can help integrate data driven decision making into the company’s cultural fiber. Data scientists can also bridge the communication gap that prevents an analytical culture from taking hold.
Tom Davenport, in his Harvard Business Review article “Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century,” describes a data scientist this way: “It’s a high-ranking professional with the training and curiosity to make discoveries in the world of big data. . . . Their sudden appearance on the business scene reflects the fact that organizations are now wrestling with information that comes in varieties and volumes never encountered before.”
Data scientists help organizations get the most out of their data, in part, by using business requirements to drive the information exploration and the application of analytics. A fact-based decision-making culture is no longer an option. It’s a requirement for businesses that want to stay competitive. Be proactive, use the Information Evolution Model. Let your data give you a fresh perspective on your business. See what’s working, fix what isn’t and set your sights on new opportunities.