Interview with Rob Whelan, Practice Director, Data and Analytics, 2nd Watch.

“Cloud technology makes experimentation cheap”

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We spoke with Rob Whelan, Practice Director, Data and Analytics at 2nd Watch about the latest survey on data management and analytics in the enterprise. Most organizations don’t have a mature data strategy. Why is this? And what is it about the cloud that helps organizations make better use of their data?

JAXenter: 2nd Watch just completed a survey on data management and analytics in the enterprise. A key finding was that most organizations don’t have a mature data strategy. Why do you think this is and what problems does it present for an enterprise?

Rob Whelan: A major reason enterprises don’t have a mature data strategy is that bringing in data is like inviting an unpredictable relative to a family meal. You can’t control data or influence it; it is what it is.

Enterprises can be reluctant to cede decision-making influence to this kind of entity. Or, they suspect the data they do have is faulty and untrustworthy.

In short, it’s a little scary, especially considering their decision-making up to now has been just fine. I think another major reason is that the promises of data, and being data-driven, are still being discovered. It’s early days, so it’s not unusual to lack a well-formed strategy.

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JAXenter: IT professionals responding to 2nd Watch’s survey shared several examples about the challenges they face in consolidating, analyzing, and using their data. For instance, nearly six in 10 respondents said they do not have the analytics expertise in-house to meet the business needs. What advice do you have for enterprises looking to overcome this and other challenges?

Rob Whelan: Most analytics projects can be improved by focusing resources.

For example, if you have five business intelligence analysts and three data engineers, but 100 reports, and they all have problems, you can get a significant improvement in performance if you throw out 90 of the reports and make the 10 most important really good – fast, reliable, up-to-date, available, and accessible by the right people.

In short, enterprises can simply prioritize and reduce the volume of analytics being produced, while keeping the number of resources fixed.

JAXenter: Legacy systems and legacy IT architecture are frequently cited as impediments to enterprises in their attempt to optimize data. Meanwhile, 41% of IT pros responding to your survey said moving to the cloud has allowed them to be more agile. What is it about cloud that lends itself to helping enterprises make better use of their data?

Rob Whelan: Cloud technology makes experimentation cheap. Teams that embrace that cultural attitude – that it’s better to experiment quickly than to immerse in planning – are enjoying the benefits of agility.

Experimentation is cheap in terms of time and money, and even organizational risk. You just have very little to lose if you ask a small team to build a proof of concept for a data system, with a super short deadline.

Thank you so much!

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