By Chris Chelliah, Group VP & Chief Architect, Technology & Cloud, Oracle Japan and Asia Pacific (JAPAC)
“Any enterprise CEO really ought to be able to ask a question that involves connecting data across the organisation, be able to run a company effectively, and especially to be able to respond to unexpected events. Most organisations are missing this ability to connect all the data together.” So said Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, back in 2007 about how data should flow in a modern organisation. His point was that the value of data cannot be fully realised if it is sat in silos. Only when enterprises have the ability to bring data together and gain a more comprehensive view of their business, can they realise its true potential value.
Companies need to aim for a ‘golden ratio’ of data, people and machines, where each is adding value and complementing the value of the other in harmony.
The amount of data available is going up all the time, driven by everything from smart phones and energy meters to connected cars, kitchen appliances and wearable devices. Cloud, has exponentially increased the amount of data in circulation, giving it a far great currency by making it easier to collect, share, analyse and interpret.
Every business or service can gain an edge by correlating all of its data sources – inside and third party. But on its own, data is just a raw material. It needs the right people, using the right tools to unlock its full value.
Businesses must not underestimate the role people play in unlocking the value of data. Currently, most organisations use a fraction of their data. So what is holding companies back?
It is often the right people who are missing. People are at the centre of planning and decision-making and for all the advances in technologies, only people can ensure the business is working with the right data, asking the right questions of its analytics, and most crucially applying those learnings in the right way to address human needs and problems.
Only When Enterprises Have the Ability To Bring Data Together And Gain A More Comprehensive View Of Their Business, Can They Realize Its True Potential Value
In many instances, there are not enough people asking the right questions of their data, or using it in the right ways.
Some companies may think more machines and more data are the answer, but it is about striking a balance and that means having the right people.
Technology’s role in this balancing act certainly cannot be underestimated. The ability to collect, collate and connect that data at scale simply did not exist until the onset of cloud computing which is breaking down the silos Berners-Lee was alluding to. The connectivity that cloud provides across businesses, supply chains, customers, platforms, applications and databases means organisations can gain a single view of their operation. The power and flexibility of cloud means they can process unprecedented volumes of data at speed through cloud applications, platforms and infrastructure.
Cloud is also enabling machines to work more autonomously and to communicate with one another as we are seeing the rise of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Such technologies are bringing speed and scale to areas of the business that otherwise would be labour intensive and time-consuming processes.
For instance, retailers looking to improve customer experience and satisfaction are turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) and interconnected sensors spread through the supply chain to uncover new ways of increasing efficiency, reducing cost, improving product availability and providing more accurate product information.
In the back office, companies are experimenting with technology powered by AI and machine learning, such as self-service chatbots to improve the HR experience for employees. Rather than having to wait on HR to answer routine questions, workers can simply interact with a chatbot linked directly to the organisation’s HR systems that can answer many questions automatically. There is a clear business benefit here in addition to improved employee satisfaction – HR teams who spend less time on these admin tasks can focus on more projects that require their unique expertise.
Machine power to the people
But automation is certainly not about replacing employees with machines. Rather, it’s about speeding up tasks that take more time than businesses can afford to give to them as they seek to innovate at pace and achieve greater profitability through efficiency and by enabling people to focus on more valuable tasks. It is about improving the decision-making capabilities of people by arming them with a richness of highly relevant, topical and timely data that otherwise would not be possible to collect.
This is why it comes back to this idea of a ‘golden ratio’ of the right people, using the right data and machines in perfect balance. No business wants too many, or an unprofitable amount of either, but will always need all three in pursuit of data-driven success.