Everything We Learned at the Gartner Data & Analytics Conference
August 29, 2022
Last week, we had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Data & Analytics Conference in Orlando, Florida. Bringing together 5,500 customers, executives, vendors, and industry analysts, it’s THE place to be for all things enterprise data, and we learned a ton as attendees, sponsors, and speakers at the event. Here’s a rundown of some of the themes we heard from the sessions and on the showroom floor—including my talk on why companies shouldn’t stop at analyzing their data, and should also be activating it.
Hightouch brings together women in data for dinner at Disney
The Holy Grail: Using Data to Drive Decisions
A little over 10 years ago, with the rise of Hadoop and massively parallel data processing, a lot of companies became obsessed with the idea of “big data.” Conferences, consultancies, and an entire industry sprung up around it. The idea was that any data that could be collected and stored was data worth collecting and storing. And lots of people got really good at it. But after a while, there was a realization that data isn’t worth a whole lot if you can’t glean insights, drive decisions, and take action from it. Worse, it could be a distraction, or in some cases a liability (cost and risk). To make data a true asset, businesses need to focus on capturing and analyzing the right data…data that makes them smarter.
Once companies have figured out what data to analyze, and the most useful ways of analyzing it—there’s no need to stop there. Most data collected by businesses should be used for more than just hydrating dashboards; it should also be used to power and automate time-sensitive decisions. It’s what Hightouch calls “Data Activation”—which is powered by a process called “Reverse ETL”: taking the enriched data in your warehouse, and sending it back to the platforms where your business teams can immediately use it for real-time decisions and actions.
It’s clear that companies are ready to do more with their data, and the impact of Data Activation is obvious. As stated by Gareth Hershel, a VP Analyst at Gartner, “Marketing offers made to customers in real-time are 2x more successful than those offered later. And 10x more successful than those made without considering a customer’s current context.” In our talk, we dove straight into the power of going from “analytics to action,” featuring our awesome customer, AXS.
Hightouch presentation at Gartner Conference titled "Why BI is Another Data Silo"
Data as a Product
Building on this theme, data teams cannot measure their success on the size of their warehouse, how modern it is, or how many bytes it can store. That’s the wrong goal. Rather, teams should think of data as a product, and should measure the success of that product based on its consumption, usefulness, and value to the organization. The focus needs to shift from just doing analytics on your data to using data to drive action.
In uncertain economic and global times, data teams are eager to find ways to clarify and simplify how their work ties to key company metrics. A good first principle? For every data project, start with the business value.
Check out our recent blog post on How to Measure the Impact of a Data Team
What’s a Data Fabric (and Where Can I Get One)?
If you’re looking for an off-the-shelf data fabric…you won’t find one. Rather than a technology, a data fabric is an emerging data management design that promises to access, integrate, and deliver data across multiple sources and targets, at the right latency and with proper governance. Technology alone cannot be thrown at the problem; each design will depend on each organization’s use case. This movement is still on the “cusp” of Gartner’s Hype Cycle, so best practices have yet to be established.
Even so, it’s a worthwhile trend to keep a pulse on. The data fabric promises to enable less technical users to find, integrate, and share data while making engineers more productive via automated data access and integration. From an organizational perspective, it can help prove the ROI of data and analytics investments (reducing the time from analytics to action for business teams). Gartner found that nearly 50% of data leaders want to automate data integration…the data fabric will help enable this automation.
Organizations interested in adopting a data fabric design should seek out composable, tightly integrated (yet loosely coupled) services that share metadata. Check out our blog post on Building a Composable CDP to see an example of this for Data Activation.
Check In On Your Data Friends…We Are Not Okay 😉
The ratio of skilled engineers to consumers of data continues to suffer. Globally, for every 10,000 consumers of data, there are five data engineers (!). The amount of data to collect, transform, and analyze continues to explode, and there will never be enough knowledge workers to keep up. Engineers are burned out. Data engineers spend the majority of their time enriching (preparing) data...the last mile of tweaking before the data is ready for analytics and activation. A pessimistic point of view is that they’ve become glorified data integration developers as a result. They need more organizational leverage so they can focus on strategic and differentiated work. Utilizing automation, AI, and collaborating with business teams to operationalize data can help improve the dynamic, while also limiting the ever-present request/response dynamic.
See You Next Year, Gartner D&A
We had a blast this year and are looking forward to joining the conversation again in 2023! If you're interested in learning how Data Activation can help your data and business teams take action on meaningful customer data, you can sign up for a free Hightouch account here.