“Data is the new oil, the new natural resource of our time” is something I have often said. Yet this is misleading. Having a lot of data sitting around is, in fact, worthless. The real value lies in being able to analyze large and diverse data sets and act on the results.
Just like air travel was once only for the elite, data analytics was once available only to the big multinationals. It was by no means perfect, with timescales of six to nine months just to build a viable data warehouse. Once that was done you would still have to ask IT to provide the hardware and data platform to do the data analysis for you—with no guarantee you would have the answers where and when you needed them most. You might have also needed a PhD in data science to understand the results!
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Cloud computing changes all that by making massive computing power available to everyone. That means access to data is finally being democratized within organizations: virtually anyone in a business today can get the insight they need to make data-driven decisions at any time and in any place by moving data to the cloud. In the past, this was challenging when the data was transactional, but now active transactional data replication is a reality. Companies can run applications on the most appropriate systems with ease.
The flexibility of the cloud makes it a good fit for data analytics. Since the process involves analyzing huge volumes of unstructured data to detect patterns and gain insights for improving strategies, businesses using the cloud can scale their usage on demand and pay accordingly.
Today, data analytics tools are cloud native, and they don’t take months or even years to set up. By leveraging cloud platforms, petabytes of data can be digested at rates that were never before possible to be surveyed from anywhere, on any device, to anyone, with answers understandable to all. The value of this cannot be disputed. if there are two businesses that are marketing and selling identical products or services and one has more insight into its customers’ behavior—or even if two share the same insights but one gets that information a day sooner—that business has a much higher chance of success.
The benefits do not end there. Specific analytics infrastructure hosted in the cloud are tailored to the industry a business operates in, whether that be retail, telco, logistics or industry. As a result, data democratization can lead to faster response times across business either by taking advantage of opportunities that more sophisticated analysis can reveal or with the proactive prevention of problems.
By removing IT as the gatekeeper of business analysis, employees can make better decisions faster and personalize their interactions with clients and consumers. With more information, employees no longer have to make decisions in isolation and can generate more accurate forecasts and plans, as well as easily analyze performance against those plans on a continual basis.
Data democratization benefits everyone by putting crucial business information into the hands of those who need it the most. This not only enables businesses to keep up with the competition, but also leapfrog ahead of. Today, data is a company asset that you ignore at your peril.
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