Steve Jobs was fascinated by our innate ability to create, utilize, and prosper from our own tools. And he’s right — from the wheel, to the lever, to the printing press, to the modern combustion engine, humanity has the ability to create inventions that define who we are and just how far we can go. Humans have walked upon the face of our moon. We know few bounds.

The computer led to the internet, which will lead to our next amazing invention. As time goes by, our solutions will continue to change. (After all, you no longer use a Blackberry, much less a typewriter, to write messages.)

With technology changing fast, how do we “future-proof” our strategy? How do we leverage our tools to innovate, while our strategy stands the test of time?
 

Data is an Unruly Child

The simplest way to future-proof your strategy is to remain data-driven. With more data comes more clarity. With more clarity comes better business decision-making, which drives superior results. It’s a virtuous cycle, the opposite of a vicious cycle, that builds upon its goodness to create exponentially more value.

But data isn’t easy anymore. Data, once locked up like gold in Fort Knox, was accessible only by technicians or experts. But that antiquated notion is long gone.

Now, data flows in from dozens of channels, in any number of formats. Like an unruly child, data is often messy and doesn’t play well with others. Data lives in the cloud and on individual machines, in legacy systems of all types.

It’s a difficult job to wrangle all this data. Or, it used to be difficult.

“Computers themselves, and software yet to be developed, will revolutionize the way we learn.”
— Steve Jobs

Rather than reflexively clamping down on the data flow, forward-thinking companies embrace trends like data democratization, or the increased accessibility of data resources via end-to-end self-service analytics platforms.

Data democratization is especially relevant for departments that have taken some of the analysis load from a centralized IT team. This comes alive in different forms, from self-trained analysts embedded in the department, to a “data champion” with the technology and moxie to uncover something thrilling from anywhere in the company.

Until recently, departments didn’t have direct access to certain types of data or data tools. Sure, marketing could look at Google Analytics, but they had to make a database request from IT to see anything from a company-wide system like the ERP.

These days, more and more companies are embracing data democratization and reaping the benefits of data analysis with a twist of department-specific expertise. Expanding access to data to just anyone may still seem strange to some, but as Steve Jobs would say, “Here’s to the crazy ones.”
 

 

Department Leaders’ Goldilocks Problem

Leaders have a unique opportunity to enable their teams with the data and technology they can use to glean insights. It’s never been easier for departments to examine their own data and derive their own answers.

But departments are inherently heterogeneous; diverse roles report up to the business lead. It can be difficult to lead a diverse group with varying levels of technical savviness.

Department managers have a Goldilocks problem: How do they find a software platform robust enough for advanced analytics, but easy enough for junior analysts to use (and easy enough for the manager to oversee)?

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to future-proof your analytics strategy by adopting software that works for your entire department. Here are three elements needed in any software platform used by the department.

 

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