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Author's profile photo Nic Smith

Why the CIO Must Own Data Discovery


Big Data brings big expectations. IT leadership is expected to empower the business to make sense of the ceaseless flood of data available to the organization. It’s not enough to simply provide a connection between reporting tools and databases. Delivering true business value means delivering solutions that help the business become smarter about the way it looks at data, and to coax data to reveal its own hidden truths. Of course, business users expect to access these insights with Google-esque speed.

These are tremendous challenges for any CIO, but solutions exist today that enable data consumers to achieve all of their desired results. Unlike traditional reporting, data discovery, for example, is both a science and an art. It not only helps deep insights and data anomalies percolate to the surface, but also it feeds the brain’s natural preference for images. We can process a complex image in a split-second, far less time than it takes to read even a report abstract.

Data discovery is such a strong play in the CIO’s quest to enable the business because it delights so many levels of stakeholders and customers. Dealers for Daimler Trucks called its SAP Lumira® deployment “the best tool Daimler Trucks has come out with in the past 15 years.” The National Football League uses visual data to power complex fantasy football player analysis for millions of fans. The Kolkata Knight Riders of Indian Premiere League (IPL) cricket have gone one step further, using SAP Lumira not only for fan engagement, but also to guide real match strategies and player acquisition.

Visualizing Success in Two Steps

Like any business intelligence initiative, the success of data discovery rests on two major prerequisites. First, it needs to be simple enough for a wide audience of users to grasp. Second, it must maintain standards of data integrity and governance, so that insights can be trusted over the long term.

Data discovery elegantly serves the broadest possible audience by putting powerful, intuitive analytical tools in the hands of every business user. Honeywell got its “data junkies” up and running in about 30 minutes. According to Forrester Research, such instant empowerment promotes business and information agility, giving front-line employees who understand customer challenges the insights they need to communicate opportunities to the rest of the business.

To establish and protect trust, CIOs need to take ownership of the selection and implementation of visual data solutions. History shows us the stark alternative. Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, when given the opportunity, lines of business have run rampant adopting their own siloed data discovery tools, and that has created a very scary situation: multiple versions of the truth in too many organizations. This was the reason CIOs took charge of business intelligence platforms in the first place. Getting out in front of data discovery now, and protecting data integrity, will prevent this type of trauma and ensure that users are acting on valid insights rooted in reality.

Business users who choose data discovery will be grateful for the confidence that comes with the managed, trusted approach. Instead of creating reports doomed to become stale, every new data mash-up will come with the assurance that the back-end data sources will stay fresh and updated. And because data discovery tools promote self-driven exploration, IT will get fewer panic-driven calls demanding a bespoke report by end-of-day.

To learn more about how data discovery can impact your business, read up on SAP’s bona fides in this exciting field from top-tier analysts, and start experimenting today. I welcome everybody to download SAP Lumira, connect it to an enterprise data source, and start unlocking new insights. Also, be sure to connect with me on Twitter and check out how others are uncovering interesting insights in their data.

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