Technology has, on the whole, been a huge boost to productivity and effectiveness in almost every corner of the modern business you care to look in. One of the most significant advances has been the exponential growth in the creation of data, and how organizations can take advantage of that. Some estimates claim that 90% of all the data ever created in human history has been generated in the last five years. This explosion has, at least in theory, meant that business leaders can make more informed decisions and, in the simplest possible terms, do their jobs better.
The Impact of Data
Every department in the enterprise has benefitted from increased visibility, better analytics and more convenient access to insights. Fintech, martech, edtech; it doesn’t matter. Every single vendor on the planet is now offering more data than ever before, and promising the world to anyone that buys their products. The elephant in the room that no one quite wants to recognize – or at least not everyone has noticed yet – is that this deluge of data is now at risk of undermining the whole premise. Industry leaders have already grown tired of all this data. On its own, all it tells them is the what. What happened and what data do we have to prove it? It’s true. We’ve never had so much data on our hands. From our CRM and our web analytics tools to our ERPs and our endpoint security platforms, everywhere we look we have more data than we know what to do with. And therein lies the problem.
Turning Data Fatigue into Focus
Making sense of data is hard. Especially when there’s so much of it. Let’s use the example of enterprise mobility. Even in this space, which has traditionally suffered from a huge blind spot when it comes to visibility (EMM solutions only provide a limited view into the device activity), we see a similar obstacle. Although some organizations continue to struggle in accessing the data generated by their mobile estate, those that have invested in products that offer real-time insights into mobile activity are now presented with a new and different challenge: So what? What should an administrator do when presented with a dashboard that shows hundreds of security threats each day? When thousands of employees are encountering connectivity issues when working remotely, how on earth can IT teams cut through the noise and surface the insights that matter the most? It’s the same in other disciplines too, of course – making informed business decisions requires insights, not just data.
More than One Solution is Needed
In response to this theme, a number of other technologies have emerged as the supposed answer to such problems. The rise of terms such as “data pools” and products such as DMPs have attempted to aggregate datasets so that analysis of it can be made easier. Though some progress has been made, the reality is always more complex than the slick demonstration video makes out. Vendors should be trying to integrate their solutions, opening up API access and minimizing the number of logins and dashboards they expect users to manage. Similarly, heavy investments in AI and machine learning from a significant number of technology firms seems to be paying off – if the marketing claims are to be believed, it should finally be getting easier to the most important stuff quicker.
Yet half of the responsibility also lies with the enterprise, too. Establishing best practices and encouraging inter-departmental working groups will help facilitate the spread of insights internally. It also means that rather than leaving stockpiles of data accumulating in rarely-used dashboards somewhere, the most pertinent findings are distributed to the teams that can take action. That could mean implementing processes that make insight sharing easier, such as the use of data visualization platforms, consolidated reports across departments or even dedicated hires to help lubricate distribution.
Moving Past What
While data fatigue has become a serious problem for many enterprises today, the best organizations are finally moving past the what – the data generated and presented by software products – to the so what? Not just “here’s a list of all my mobility workforce problems,” but a “30% of my mobile helpdesk tickets relate to WiFi connectivity.” That’s the all-important so what? that’s needed to overcome data fatigue. Beyond that, and a disappointingly small volume of organizations are employing this in practice, is the tricky business of the now what? How do we make that informed decision as a result of this insight? How can we get these so what? insights into the hands of the person that can do something about it? For enterprise mobility, and in every other “big data” software segment, this is the most important area of focus – and it’s going to require both vendors and industry leaders to make sure it happens.