Why you should reimagine the role of data

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While the creation, collection and crunching of data has been on the rise since the internet went mainstream, COVID-19 – and the associated home-working, home-schooling and, well, basically home everything – has only accelerated that growth even further. According to OpenVault, average broadband consumption increased by almost 47% in the first quarter of this year – and that only tells part of the story in terms of what that means for brands trying to reach their customers amidst a deluge of content and competitors vying for the same space.

The explosion of data generated by the increase in consumption of digital content and services – and the increased adoption of SaaS applications to support remote working – is profoundly changing the data and analytics industry. IDC predicts that the collective sum of the world’s data will grow to 175 ZB by 2025. To put this in perspective, if each gigabyte in a zettabyte were a brick, we could build the Great Wall of China – made of nearly four billion bricks – over 250 times. It’s a lot.

With more people online, the growth of the streaming and gig economies, and changes in how we live and work, we’re only set to see this trend continue. More connectivity means more data – especially with new devices, sensors and connected technologies putting us firmly in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT). This makes it an incredibly exciting time for businesses, as the opportunities to get the right information at just the right time to confidently make the right decisions, have never before existed on this scale.

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But there is a problem. Many organizations feel completely overwhelmed by this surge of data. While there are new and exciting opportunities emerging for businesses to connect with customers and prospects, many are finding it harder to separate the signals from the noise and to get the insight they need from their database to deliver truly great results – and this has only been exacerbated since the onset of the crisis. Businesses need to take a few clear steps before they can begin extracting value from data while providing a better experience for their customers.

Look beyond the dashboard

There was a time when business intelligence meant visualizations, dashboards and the presentation of data from analysts to the wider organization. Few had access to it. Even less could take the available information, analyze it and develop business-critical insights.

Today, those dashboards are more intuitive, more advanced and more user-friendly than ever before. They support users from across all different functions of organizations to analyze and make decisions based on data – and this isn’t going away. But we believe it’s just the beginning. As Forrester puts it, “insights-driven businesses harness and implement digital insights strategically and at scale to drive growth and create differentiating experiences, products, and services.” They see data beyond the dashboard and as an enabler of new business models and opportunities.

To unlock the full value of data, organizations need solutions that transcend traditional BI and infuse data into operational workflows. Leading companies choose a platform to power data experiences. One that will deliver actionable business insights at the point of decision, create new value streams, and infuse data into products and workflows to move their business forward.

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Integrate insights

We all use specific tools every day to perform our roles. Whether it’s tracking prospects, sales pipelines or forecasting, or delivering customer service on the front line, access to data enriches these experiences.

By integrating insights into the tools and products we rely on, from Salesforce to BigQuery – augmenting them with contextual information about a particular workflow – we enhance the experience of those tools and become more effective at performing our roles.

This could be the data platform providing more context around a customer’s account, with a visualization widget built into the contact center chat support program. All of this is available within a third-party application to ease the process of incorporating data into employees’ day-to-day workflows. With integrated insights, without even thinking about it, everyone at the company is making data-informed decisions.

Create data-driven workflows

These “data-driven experiences” are focused on improving processes or workflows by incorporating fresh, accurate data into them, enabling employees to increase efficiency without losing transparency. Driving operational efficiency, data-driven workflows make processes faster and more streamlined, either by automating processes with data or providing decision support for humans.

They can be tailored to specific operational workflows, like automatically presenting a discount offer to a customer that’s likely to churn, adjusting bids for under- or over-performing online ads, or using natural language to ask about inventory levels in Slack and ordering additional units based on the answer.

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Data-driven workflows empower organizations to save time and money by putting their data to work in every part of their business – ensuring their employees are freed up to think strategically, be creative and focus on the bigger picture.

Power your apps with data

Most tools on the internet are custom applications. Netflix is a data application, for example. Any travel comparison website typically involves a business intelligence application at its foundational level, pulling in the stipulations you’ve stated, analyzing the database of information and making suggestions based on this and your previous buying habits.

By harnessing data to fuel applications, organizations build the exact experiences their people, customers and stakeholders need. Whether it’s empowering employees or improving the customer journey, data-driven custom applications are designed to create more effective and more efficient experiences all round.

With the proliferation of internet usage and the deluge of data that coincides with such growth, the opportunity for organizations to reimagine their user experience through data could be game- changing. Decisions based on fact, not fiction. Personalized experiences for customers. The creation of new revenue streams and business models. All of this potential could fast become a reality – and the information is at all of our fingertips today.

  • John O’Keeffe, Director of Looker EMEA, Google Cloud.

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