John Donne was apt in saying that ‘No man is an island’ and it only reiterates how humans cannot thrive when they get isolated from other human beings. Isolation can deprive anything of its true value. Now, if you replace that man with data, you will not be farther from the truth.

The ‘New Oil’ epithet to data only magnifies the value of data in the enterprise world. While the drive to tap into the potentials of data has never lost steam nor rhythm, organizations stumble upon the 3D data problem that has made it a tough ask to realize the true potentials of data. Data in isolation poses a crucial caveat to organizations.

Enter an organization, and you would bump into Disparate systems, Different technologies and Data in silos – 3Ds driving islands of data. As of now, the 3D Data conundrum is hurting organizations’ cause of extracting desired value from data.

3D Data deadlock              

Here is a 3D data scenario, resulting in a deadlock.  It begins with a financial institution reaching an impasse. A sprawling data estate with more than 50 data sources is the prime source guiding the financial institution to generate intelligence. The data sources in turn drive different business lines adopted to cater to the varied needs of customers.

Services in islands led to islands of data and intelligence, with the result that customer information went into silos. There were disparate systems scattered all over the enterprise, powered by different technologies. Though every system gave way for intelligence in its unique way, the organization lacked a single customer view as well as enlightened intelligence that could serve the organization’s purpose to the hilt. The Government body was devoid of the ‘Big Picture’ or intelligence that mattered most to create crucial turnarounds.

Who is ‘the’ customer?

The 3D Data deadlock moots a serious query – Who is ‘the’ customer is that query seeking one distinct answer across the enterprise. Retracing the way to know as to why the query sprung up in the first place, we are led to customer information that remains in silos. With different service lines in the offing, what a customer means to one service line differs from that of another. Customer data is looked at in a different way by different service lines.

If business stakeholders driving a service line defines and treats customer data in their own way, stakeholders from another define and treat customer data in a different manner. That swells in severity if this happens among several departments in the organization, where ‘who is the customer’ would then attract different answers from various departments. What customer data means to a sales department could be different to a marketing, customer service, finance, IT or other departments in an organization.

The wall created between people, departments and teams only brings about the denial of freedom to collaborate as it is also leads to the stacking up of silos that have become counter-intuitive to drive productivity, achieve business goals.

More systems, more data, yet delayed customer 360-degree

Changes are happening at a breakneck speed. Every dawn brings with it changes in the way customers shop, products are being manufactured and shipped and changes in the way organizations reach out to customers. Close on the heels of changes or evolving needs, then, arrive the need to add more systems, enhance processes to trigger desired outcomes.

As more applications come into play, there is also the need to seek support from different technology vendors to move from data to insights. The drive to acquire new capabilities to meet the evolving needs have only led organizations down the lane to data fragmentation.  The rise in data silos also take root from:

  • Measuring different outcomes
  • Chasing different objectives and goals
  • Isolated teams

True, there is a reporting engine in every department churning out reports by hundreds. But that’s far from the support an organization needs to get the holistic view of the customer. In the prevailing 3D data scenario, it takes colossal organization efforts to accomplish that objective. Getting to the 360-degree view of the customer then becomes a time and efforts guzzler. In short, more systems an organization uses, more silos are created and more difficult it becomes to drive data-driven decisions.

What eludes organization is the holistic picture that can strengthen decision making. Where quick and informed decisions are a must-do in this fast-paced environment, silos can slow the process of moving from data to intelligence to action stage.

How to hit this ‘3D Data’ nail on its head?

As we keep the customer at the core of this 3D Data problem, what grows in significance is the need to create that single customer view as well as the true customer profile. What’s germane to this situation is breaking silos, integrating data from disparate sources to reap value from intelligence. The key to extracting value from data lies in empowering access to information that matters and that is relevant to solving a given business problem. Some critical questions that deserve attention to break this 3D data wall includes:

  • What are the systems paving way for data silos?
  • What technologies drive the systems, how data is collected and reports generated?
  • Who is using what systems?
  • What are the data management challenges?

As the first step to solving this customer profile déjà vu, departments in an organization must come together to arrive at a consensus as to how customer data gets defined and collated – Making sense out of data takes shape with the right data storage, effective data preparation and robust analytics. For the analytics engine to churn out intelligence, organizations must keep a robust data management architecture to support analytical efforts. Democratizing data, breaking data walls, allowing business users to access data they want at the time they need it takes an organization closer to making data-driven decision-making their forte.