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The big data and analytics software market is worth over $50 billion worldwide.

Everyday, there are millions of new dashboards and reports built, everyone is hiring data scientists and organisations are racing to build “data lakes”, enterprise warehouses and real-time streaming data processing capabilities to collect every scrap of data they can.

Unfortunately, most of the time, the effort and money being invested in this is completely missing the mark because everyone is stopping before the value.

In the rush to amass data and present it in attractive charts, organisations are forgetting the most important part — using the insights to make better decisions and ultimately act on those decisions, driving transformation.

Collecting all that information is only one part

It’s no good just collecting, governing and presenting the data, it’s about making sure we get the right insights to the right people at the right time and then enabling them to act.

Think about it this way — you wouldn’t train for an Iron Man then not go, or buy all the ingredients for a cake, mix them together and not bake them in the oven.

So why would we put so much time, effort and budget into getting the right insights to the right people at the right time and then not enable them to act on it?

What we need to do is take the next step, and actually use that data to make decisions and drive action. Let’s take a quick look at the five steps of the data value chain:


The first step is all about creating order from the chaos, collecting the right data we need, joining it where relevant and making sure it’s clean, reliable and accurate.


The second step is to take all that data and turn it into — hopefully — easily understandable, relevant and contextual charts, tables, images and alerts for the people who need it to consume them.


The third step is to use these charts to tell us something — to create insight. We need expert commentary to support the visual — whether it comes from actual humans or AI computer brains making connections and drawing conclusions for us.


Once we have some insight the fourth step is to work out what action to take. If the dotted line is going down, and is predicting something bad, what should we do? How, when, where should we do it? Who can help us to do it or can we do it ourselves?

Do we have the capabilities and tools, do our processes even allow it? These are just a few of the questions that will lead us to taking the right action.


Value is achieved only when we act on the insight. It means we got it to the right person at the right time, and we enabled them to act.

Although there are five steps, the first half of this process — data, information and insight — is all about enabling ‘trust’, the single most important building block all data is built on. The second stage — insight, action and value — are where we deliver the real tangible value, the benefits and change to our businesses, the bottom-line, the customer experience and our employee engagement.

So why does everyone stop before the value?

Why is everyone so concerned about building better (and more) dashboards and KPIs when they then spend no time or energy looking at the business processes and capabilities to act on the information?

We need to start prioritising action over information — this is the only way to ensure real business engagement and change that will deliver the value of the data investment.

So take a moment to ask yourself an important question — where is your organisation on the data value chain?

Are you using the insights to make tangible change and drive organisation-wide transformation? Or are you, like so many others, stopping before the value?

Steve Plimsoll is MENA Data and Intelligence Advisory Leader at EY.