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Being A Data Centric Business: It’s Going Beyond The Frenzy Of More Big Apps And High Tech

In today’s data-saturated world, adopting a data centric mindset proves crucial for remaining competitive. Indeed, it is data that gives businesses insights and enables good decision-making. What’s more, data now transcends its role as a mere by-product of software applications, emerging as your most precious business asset. Further, businesses must realize that software and business methodologies will come and go, while data remains constant and a permanent resource. In this article, let’s delve into the challenges associated with handling data overload and the risks of focusing solely on a software-centric approach. Moreover, I’ll familiarize you with the idea of operating a data-centric business.

“We are surrounded by data, but starved for insights.”

Jay Baer

Businesses Crave Insights, Yet Struggle with Data, Software, Technology, and Hype.

being a data centric business

Diving into the bustling data landscape of modern businesses, we see both large and small companies face increasingly larger data sets. However, harnessing the power of this data to gain first-class insights proves daunting for most. This is because there is so much data, monolithic software, emerging technology, and hype in this digital puzzle palace for businesses to fathom. Indeed, this confusion only adds to the struggles of staying competitive and informed in a world where an ever-expanding treasure-trove of data is essential for success. Let’s explore further these issues.

“… there is so much data, emerging technology, and hype in this digital puzzle palace for businesses to fathom.”

1. Business Data Overload Produces Little Insight.

First, this data ordeal results in extreme hardship for businesses to even glean any actual insights from their data. In particular, business analysis becomes a mind-numbing experience. Now, businesses routinely sift through vast amounts of irrelevant data that is incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated.

“People spend 60% to 80% of their time trying to find data. It’s a huge productivity loss.”

Dan Vesset
2. What Tech Solution Will Resolve Our Data Challenges, or Is It Simply Hype?

Another challenge for businesses is the constantly growing number of data-related concepts and terms. In fact, most businesses are bombarded with this jargon by technology vendors, leading to more confusion than insights.

In the past, businesses had to contend with only a handful of data-related terms and concepts. At first, technology gurus called this new data phenomenon  “big data” that businesses needed to store in “data warehouses”. Now as more and more date idioms increase in number. we ask which one is the right solution? Is it “data-driven”, “data mesh”, “knowledge management”, “data silos”, Single Source Of Truth (SSOT), “digital twin”, “data lake”, “knowledge graphs”, “data fabric”, “metadata”, “data oriented design (DOD)” or something else?

Indeed, it is challenging to determine what new data-related concepts are hype and which are not. In many cases, the concept is valid, but it gets oversold and misconstrued by an over-zealous tech sales team. Worse, a business will buy into the new, shiny tech solution without doing the due diligence. Positively, business leaders need to understand the technology and figure out if it really fits their business requirements.

“Executive management is more likely to invest in data initiatives when they understand the ‘why.’”

Della Shea

Is Our App-Centric Mindset Preventing Us From Getting The Data Insights We Need?

Software has transformed the business landscape, but we must ask whether it also presents a problem in today’s era of “Big Data”. Traditionally, software has used data simply as an input or an output, not as the central element, thereby relegating data to the sidelines as an operational by-product. This practice persisted with the advent of enterprise software and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms. Over time, businesses have integrated these systems, yet these platforms still often regard data as a by-product.

As a result, many businesses now have aging software data silos. To confront this issue, businesses have turned to Business Intelligence (BI) tools to unify these scattered data sources. However, this often seems like a patchwork fix rather than a strategic move. Let’s dive in further on what is going on with business software and is it time to stop being application-centric.

1. Exploring the Impact of Monolithic Applications and Emerging Technologies on Data Dysfunction.

So it is fair to say, many businesses have become too application-centric. Further, this mindset deters businesses from real insights from their precious business data. Specifically, this is because a lot of businesses are dealing with several monolithic software applications generating huge amounts of data. For example, many supply chain managers now have to work with systems like ERP, TMS, WMS, OMS, CRM, Procurement, SCM, Invoicing, Accounting, SCP, and so on. 

Worse, now more emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices are generating gobs of new data. And to top it off, there is AI that requires large, quality data sets to work. However, the data AI needs is stuck in data silos, fragmented, inaccurate, and duplicated. For more discussion on the dangers of having an application-centric mindset, see my article, You Need To Think Data Centric To Be A Successful Business: Stop Being Data Driven, Application Centric.

Now, there is hope for getting out of this data nightmare. For example, some software developers have started to take a “data-oriented” approach to developing software to address the advent of “big data”. This software development approach is radically different, and, most importantly, it is a challenge to implement without business buy-in. 

2. What If Businesses Started Putting Their Data First Over Their Software Applications?

So first and foremost, I recommend that businesses adopt a “data centric” mindset. Indeed, this is a key first step for businesses to really start getting insights from their data and become more competitive. Basically, they need to start thinking of their data as a product, not a by-product. Further, businesses need to think of their data as a tangible and permanent asset. Lastly, they need to think of their software as temporary in that it comes and goes over the years. Indeed, this type of mindset starts businesses on the path to real data insights.

“… need to start thinking of their data as a product, not a by-product. Further, businesses need to think of their data as a tangible and permanent asset.”

So What Does Data Centric Mean And Can It Help My Business?

To get started with understanding exactly what “data centric” is, we need a definition and also what it is not. For instance, “data centric” is not “data driven”. In many cases, people have overused this term where it has become an ambiguous “buzzword”. Also, data centric does not mean that businesses need to put all their data in one database or software application. For many businesses, it would take years to consolidate all their data into one application, and by then, the software would probably be obsolete.

However, a business can start having a “data centric” mindset today, and soon the automation will follow. Here is a definition for data centric.

Data Centric Definition

“Data centric refers to an architecture where data is the primary and permanent asset, and applications come and go.  In the data centric architecture, the data model precedes the implementation of any given application and will be around and valid long after it is gone.”

TDAN, The Data-Centric Revolution: Data-Centric vs. Data-Driven

I like this definition. It defines data as the primary component of business technology. Specifically, this definition tells us that technology, software applications, and automation will come and go, but our data will never grow obsolete. Indeed, data is a permanent business asset that businesses do not need to constrain within any particular technology or software application. That’s it. By adopting a “data centric” mindsets, businesses will remain agile, have one truth, keep things simple, and they can continue to innovate. Moreover, data silos, information duplication, and data inaccuracies will fade away.  For more details on the advantages of a data centric business, see my article, A Data Centric Business: The Best Way To Agility, One Truth, Simplicity, Technology Innovation.

A Data Centric Business: The Best Way To Agility, One Truth, Simplicity, Technology Innovation.

Is your business struggling to manage the flood of data available in today’s competitive world? Data silos, information duplication, and inaccuracies only complicate the matter further. However, a data centric approach can help! By adopting this mindset, your organization can gain agility, establish a Single Source of Truth (SSOT), streamline automation processes, and reignite innovation.

Click here to explore the benefits of this approach, how it differs from data-driven, and how to balance application-centric and data-centric approaches. It’s time to re-think your business’ data strategy!

For more articles from SC Tech Insights’, see latest postings on Data and Interoperability.

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