Data Democratization and the 4 C’s Framework

by Jim Cain

In March I introduced my 4 C’s Framework in the article “The 4 C’s for Executives: Create, Connect, Control, Commercialize”. In this post, which is really a precursor to the last one, I’d like to talk about data democratization as it relates to this framework. 

But let’s step back a bit first. For the last 5 or 6 years, we at Napkyn have been known for working with large enterprises around Google’s products, specifically Google Analytics 360, Google Tag Manager, Google Optimize, and Google Cloud. But, despite our specialization in a particular stack, analysts analysis –  it’s really just running a large data project.

And one of the things that is often the hardest part of the work, is getting buy-in on the work itself, or getting the work to start for the most part due to how difficult it is to get different parts of the organization to pull together. Which, for a data project, is a big deal. 

In my opinion, the phrase data transformation has been beaten to death, but, the concept of digital transformation, or data transformation, is a big key to what I’m touching on here. So, how do we get everyone to start playing a little better in the sandbox?

Let’s start by looking at the reason the 4 C’s  framework exists, and that’s because there is a problem:

Every company has big data in its future, and every company will eventually be in the data business. – Thomas H Davenport

This quote sums up the first part of the problem.  Because in 2021, every single company is to some extent a data business, it doesn’t matter whether you’re IBM or a corner store. I’ll stop and let you read that again. Every. Single. Business/ Pretty much everything that’s happening right now, especially in coding land where everybody’s doing things primarily with their phones and their computers, everything can create and throw off data. And, almost every business owner is using as much of that data as they are capable of getting their hands on in order to understand and grow their business. Again, every business is a data business.

In fact, in a recent study conducted by Vanson Bourne, “74% of respondents agree their organization has more data than ever,” But the second part of this stat is where the real problem lies, “ but is struggling to use it to help generate useful business insights.”

Ironically, this is kind of the State of the Union around data. There’s always more data. There’s always more complexity. But how do you turn it into something that is not only really really useful, but powerful for your business?

Let’s not forget that in 2021, there’s also a lot more regulation and a lot more changes in some of the underlying technology. I’m sure we’re all seeing some of the changes with browsers and cookies as an example. So, you know, it’s fair to say, water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink when it comes to data. This leads to this quote that I find to be a real punch in the gut:

Through 2022, only 20% of analytic insights will deliver business outcomes.– Andrew White, Gartner

A lot of initiatives that are tied to data fail to launch, or to add the value that was originally perceived it could add. But despite this, everyone, including us, believes that data is a critical piece.

So what’s the solution to this problem? Data Democratization. 

Data democratization means that everybody has access to data and there are no gatekeepers that create a bottleneck at the gateway to the data. The goal is to have anybody use data at any time to make decisions,  with no barriers to access or understanding, creating team members that are more data-driven. 

– Bernard Marr, bestselling author  of “Big Data in Practice.”

Unfortunately, very few people feel they are being appropriately empowered and able to leverage the power of their data. Right. There’s no data democratization because not everyone has access to the data. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be gatekeepers, but a system or process could be the gatekeeper instead of. or as well as. a person as long as the goal is to have everybody having access to, and then using the data. 

An example of not being data-driven or not adhering to data democratization  I use a lot when I’m training people on tools is this: You’re in a meeting and someone goes “that’s a good question, let’s make it a take away.” They say this because they have to go away to access, get permission to access. or ask someone who has access to the data, to be able to answer the question. When a company embraces data democratization, this turns to, “ that’s a great question. Let’s answer it right now.”

With the data at our fingertips, we can move forward in this meeting, that’s the concept of data democratization. Everybody’s just using the information at their fingertips to be more efficient and more powerful.

Data democratization is the ultimate goal of the business. You can’t have a small group of people who are the only experts with the keys to the kingdom. Unfortunately, it’s also a very difficult concept to move towards. And it’s really the crux of the 4 C’s concept.

So, how do we think about using the concept of data democratization to take some of the quotes above and flip those numbers? How do we make 80% of analytic insights deliver business outcomes? How do we make it so only 25% of businesses feel they’re struggling with their data?  Don’t get me wrong, some of it is always going to be looking at your neighbor’s car and your neighbor’s lawn, and thinking that yours could be better. And, there are businesses that are doing some amazing work with data. However, almost every company that we talk to at Napkyn feels they’re behind the eight ball. 

Sometimes they are. But MOST of the time, it’s just in certain areas. It could be issues with data integration, data availability, or training. 

It’s good that most businesses recognize they’re behind because now it’s just a matter of coming up with the root cause. And that’s where we start to think about using the concept of the four C’s and data democratization to address this disconnect by getting everyone involved no matter the size of your company. Because if data is now a part of every department, and a data democracy requires everyone to have access to the data, then everyone needs to be on board.

Which leads to the question, how do we work together with data?

I’m going to stop there for now. Who doesn’t love a cliffhanger, right? I’ll detail how we work together in my next post. Or, if you can’t wait, you can view the recording of this webinar I recently presented on the 4 C’s Framework.

Jim Cain

Founder and CEO, Napkyn Analytics

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