Is The Data-Driven Business Is A Myth?


Adrian Bridgwater, Contributor

October 16, 2015

We already know that software runs the world, but this whole notion of the ‘data-driven’ business is arguably too technical (and fanciful) a spin for most modern businesses, isn’t it? Automotive manufacturers are still auto-driven (no pun intended) businesses, bakeries are still flour and yeast driven businesses and healthcare providers are still people-driven (or perhaps people-centric) businesses at the end of the day – surely?

Are undertakers now death-data-driven firms? I mean, honestly.

Admittedly there is a wide ranging acceptance of the reality of technology penetration in all business verticals, but even a casual bit of research on this topic reveals a couple of home truths.

Two data truths

  • Vendors will talk about data-driven business centricity until they are producing a stream of their own binary 1’s and 0’s – and every big data, Business Intelligence (BI), data analytics, data platform company will sing together in harmony
  • Most businesses still rely on gut feel and market experience rather than cold, hard data to make business decisions.

In a feature on this exact topic written in 2001, Eric T. Peterson author of Web Analytics Demystified wrote, “My concern arises from the idea that any business of even moderate size and complexity can be truly ‘driven’ by data. I think the right word is ‘informed’ and what we are collectively trying to create is ‘increasingly data-informed and data-aware businesses and business people’ who integrate the wide array of knowledge we can generate about digital consumers into the traditional decisioning process. The end-goal of this integration is more agile, responsive, and intelligent businesses that are better able to compete in a rapidly changing business environment.”

Peterson questions whether it’s all just a question of semantics here anyway. He very amusingly says… you say “potato” I say “tuberous rhizome”. Touché!

With this leveling insight into non-vendor-speak, we can perhaps more sensibly look outwards at what the industry is repeatedly trying to tell us and sell us in this space. Informatica reaches version 10 of its data management platform software platform this month with a promise to modernize and simplify enterprise data architectures.

Once again, we will assume that the average firm today is indeed scratching its head and worrying about questions like ‘just how modern is my data architecture?’ etc. Informatica brands its software components into a) a power center module b) a data quality module and c) a data integration hub.

Anil Chakravarthy, acting chief executive officer at the company is on the record next to company commentary claiming that, “With Informatica, customers leverage a codeless development environment, automation and intelligence that enables data integration developers to be 40 percent more productive compared to traditional hand-coding – and 25 percent more productive compared to developing on IBM, according to Bloor Research.”

The firm claims that enterprises taking a data-centric approach achieve on average six additional points of profit margin.

Yes it’s all about data visualization tools now and the need to get started with real-time data warehousing. It’s also all about how we exchange data among operational applications at any speed – batch, near real time or in real time – and these are all functions of Informatica. But we have to assume that the data-driven business is real before we can get excited about these things.

Potato-based simplicity

To attempt to steer us towards some more ground level reality and use Peterson’s approach to potato-based simplicity… Informatica says “enterprise-class data transformation and parsing capability for any data type”, I say “really handy and flexible company spreadsheet” or something like that.

Let’s not much fun too much, but equally let’s go forward with a healthy degree of skepticism.

This article was written by Adrian Bridgwater from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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