The Data Games
The summer games end this weekend, wrapping up 16 exciting days of global competition and camaraderie. Spectators across the world have donned their country colors to cheer on their favorite teams and suddenly became huge fans of a few unusual sports. Hammer throw or race-walking, anyone?
I love the intensity the games engender, but I confess that sportsball is a little foreign to me. When I watch my favorite – well, temporarily favorite – games, I sometimes relate to them through classic business intelligence and analytics concepts. Yes, it’s a little on the data-geeky side, but here are eight summer sports that remind me of how we can all take home the gold this August.
Summer Games sport: Gymnastics. BI equivalent: Self-Service
A gold medal gymnastics team comprises athletes who perform exceptionally well in individual events (e.g., floor exercises, beam, bar.) Yet, it’s the combined strengths of the gymnasts that power the team’s ultimate success. Similarly, the success of the enterprise requires that business users engage in self-service BI. No longer can (or should) organizations rely solely on IT for analysis and reporting. Various departments have a unique and equally important role to play in attaining the most critical business insights. Only then can the company win self-service gold.
Summer Games sport: 100-Meter Dash. BI equivalent: Mobile Apps
When it comes to the 100-meter dash, competitors don’t need the endurance of their long-distance counterparts – speed is the name of the game. End-users expect similar speed and performance from their mobile BI applications. In-depth reports and complicated charts are generally reserved for traditional computing platforms, but it’s vital that mobile apps with key information and analytics be readily accessible, intuitive, and reactive.
Summer Games sport: Diving. BI equivalent: Big Data Analytics
This summer, elite divers will hover above the pool plotting their next move with precision. Individuals conducting big data analytics find themselves poised over their own figurative body of water – the data lake. Just like divers know precisely how to enter the water, data scientists know how to dip precisely into their data lakes to get the result they want.
Summer Games sport: Volleyball. BI equivalent: Predictive Analytics
To medal in this sport, athletes must be fast and reactive, but also anticipate the ball’s trajectory in order to be in place to hit it back – a volley is often won or lost before the ball crosses the net. Predictive analytics helps companies achieve a similar velocity in their businesses, helping them employ a forward-looking approach and be constantly thinking of their next move.
Summer Games sport: Pentathlon. BI equivalent: Master Data Management
The challenge of the pentathlon arises from the athlete’s need to master multiple disciplines: pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding, and running. Losing ground in one leg of the race means athletes have to work much harder to make up ground in the others. Similarly, master data management depends not on one discipline, but several: data integration, cleansing, remediating, and mastering. Letting one of them slip (e.g., data cleansing) can force you to spend much more effort (e.g., with remediation) down the line.
Summer Games sport: Field Hockey. BI equivalent: Data Integration
In field hockey, each team member has a part to play: goalies, fullbacks, midfielders, and forwards. In a company, each department has a distinct function(s), perhaps accounting, HR, sales, manufacturing, marketing, or fulfillment. A good team doesn’t try to get individuals to perform each other’s actions; instead, team members count on each other to cover their respective “zones” and do their jobs. In the same way, a good company relies on each department to play its part. Data integration takes the results of each department’s actions and brings them together so that the entire organization is functioning properly, working together, and achieving shared goals.
Summer Games sport: Sprint and Relay. BI equivalent: Data Governance
Taking the gold in this event demands that the same baton be passed seamlessly from one runner to the next – without sacrificing speed or agility. In an effective data governance framework, the accuracy of information must remain consistent as it passes from application to application and throughout the organization.
Summer Games sport: Spectating. BI equivalent: InfoApps
Okay, while spectating may not be a “sport,” it’s an important component of the summer games. Not everyone can be a star athlete, but everyone wants to enjoy the games by sharing in the excitement of the athletes’ accomplishments. Just as millions of people are living vicariously through the athletes competing in Rio this summer, everyone can get answers to the questions they have – without being an analyst or undergoing extensive training – by using self-service tools like InfoApps.