In future all company leaders will have to be proficient in big data. I put data familiarity in the top six habits that leaders need to form. Leaders at every level need to be deeply and continuously informed so that they can build strong, diverse strategic options for their companies.
Examples abound – even in the case of killer products like the iPad, the art of leadership lies in knowing how to do great product upgrades, annually or even more often, on the back of data about new use cases and user needs. Big data, then, is not only a big computing challenge. It is a personal development requirement. How ready are we?
You might argue that sorting data is a functional responsibility. True in one sense. But on the other hand hand, only good leaders are going to ask the right questions of data. Data needs leadership insights.
To date, I sense, the big data movement has not yet created adequate awareness of this. Data, right now, is one of those all-things-are-possible memes, even though the skills to use big data are in extremely short supply (and it is not even close to management facility). Unless the big data vendors can make big data usable by leaders, who have dozens of other simultaneous learning requirements, then it will wither as one more fad. In fact big data has to be usable by people like me, people who don’t actually want to create long search queries, who don’t want to know Hadoop and couldn’t care less about NoSQL.
Data systems like P&Gs, and no doubt at Apple, that allow senior leaders to plot the company’s product refresh, marketing positioning and critical supply choices from the real time dashboard, I would wager are very usable.
I spent an afternoon earlier this week at the offices of Rosslyn Analytics a small London-based supplier of big data analytics, trying to get my head around what big data actually means and how people like me can master it. I’m not a big data writer but it’s obvious when you read what companies like P&G are doing, that you cannot be interested in the future of the enterprise without also being fascinated by the role of data-driven decision making. When Nick Vitalari and I wrote about Apple recently in The Elastic Enterprise we were also equally struck by the way that the business ecosystem becomes a vast funnel of data for Apple. The social business, in fact, is a data funnel.
Rosslyn Analytics are one of several companies hoping to provide a platform that integrates all of a company’s data requirements in one dashboard. In their case the data sources are internal and external, and the holy grail is successfully combining those. So the data elements are: the corporate ERP systems, with the silos broken down, proprietary external data warehouses, like those from Experian, and the World Wide Web.
Rosslyn’s platform combines these but they also have an apps marketplace for third party providers to build new data applications, or use-cases, that customers can then pick and choose from.
So that is Rosslyn. What did I learn?
Tip #1. The big future for big data appears to be in behavioural data. But I’m not massively sold on this idea. Where Rosslyn are making waves is in the re-use (or socialising) of ERP data along with proprietary data (with a dash of the web thrown into the mix).