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Re-thinking the data supply chain

Updated: Nov 11, 2021


I recently read Winning with Data by Tomasz Tunguz and Frank Bien, both of whom have amazing experience working with disruptive and successful powerhouse businesses, like HubSpot. The book is filled with insightful perspectives on how data is changing the business landscape.


One of the examples that they examined was that of Uber and how it has impacted the taxi industry across the globe. I know this is a case that has been discussed to death. What was interesting was the idea that one of the key disruptors was the ability for Uber to remove the bandwidth limiting “dispatcher” model of allocating a driver to a rider. There is no way that the taxi industry can ever compete using a human dispatcher. The volume of requests from riders can never keep pace with allocation and pin-point accuracy of Uber.


They were able to extend the Uber/Taxi example to compare it to the use of data within business in general. The majority of businesses that I speak with on a daily basis have a central analyst team who are responsible for managing data, designing and implementing data models, creating reports and dashboards for business users to consume. The central teams are overwhelmed with requests from users who don’t have the skills or access required to create their own reports to answer their own questions. It’s not uncommon for a central analyst team to have a backlog of requests that can go to hundreds of hours of work, which realistically is never going to be delivered.


The solution that is being pushed is to expand the data team, but just like the taxi industry, adding more dispatchers is not a viable solution. Demand will continue to increase and the cost and effectiveness of the approach just doesn’t stack up.


What is needed to address the data bottleneck is a shake up and re-thinking of the data supply chain. The goal must be that every employee must be able to answer 80-90% of their own questions quickly, with the analyst team able to then focus on the most valuable and more complex questions for the organisation.


Consider the tools that you provide your business users. Now ask yourself, is the most junior and the most senior person in your business ever going to be able to find the answer to a question that isn’t already on an existing dashboard?


There are new tools now available that have been built to solve this problem, they bring together the technologies like search and BI. So now ask yourself, can your most junior and most senior person use Google to answer their questions? If they can do that, then they can use modern BI tools like ThoughtSpot that will allow them to answer 80-90% of their own data questions.


If you would like to see a demo of ThoughtSpot in action, drop me an email at james@pivotananlytics.com.au.






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