Freedom is a powerful word
But, what does it actually mean? To some, it means independence. To others, the ability to act and speak freely – or to move around without borders.
Freedom is undeniably a powerful concept. Over the course of time, we’ve seen incredibly inspiring individuals battle against all odds to achieve the remarkable – against often, seemingly impossible things. Whatever its meaning, the word has and continues to play a significant, powerful and symbolic role across the globe.
The concept of freedom applies to all walks of life, the business world included. When it comes to business, companies define freedom in terms of their customers, their partners and their employees.
Freedom in the business world
The Oxford Dictionary defines freedom as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. In business, this equates to frictionless cooperation throughout an organisation whereby employees can experiment within their roles and take ownership of their tasks and responsibilities.
One way that this freedom can be facilitated, is by enabling employees across all departments and levels to freely access the company’s data – and its data analytics across the entire organisation. We define this, as the democratisation of data. By allowing this access across all staff levels, individuals are empowered to make use of the data with which every business is inundated in order to improve performance.
By authorising employees to freely access company data, it provides them with valuable insights needed to make more informed decisions.
Interestingly, a recent report by Gartner states that 50% of organisations will still lack sufficient AI and data literacy skills to achieve business value by 2020; and so the question remains, how can one truly be free at work if this is the case?
The answer, of course, lies with data democratisation and the fostering of data literacy. By this, we mean the ability to derive meaningful information from data and reduce an organisation’s reliance on armies of data scientists.
Executing a strategy of freedom
In order to achieve this freedom, it is essential to make company data accessible, useable and self-serving for the average end user, including employees without technical experience and skill sets.
There are a myriad of reasons why this is so important, not least because it is what companies want. Every business is faced with mountains of data from all angles and, more often than not, this is spread across different databases – a problem made worse with the growth of cloud as well as developments in mobile, application programming interfaces (APIs) and the Internet of things (IoT).
By integrating our processes with our data, companies are able to address these shortcomings and employees are free to differentiate through agility, efficiency and innovation – or to avoid disintermediation. This enables them to capture business events in real-time and turn data into information on which they can easily act.
Moreover, data democratisation means all employees can easily access data and take action on critical business insights. This allows organisations to establish a competitive edge against companies with restricted databases.
But, what use is this if there is a majority of employees unable to make sense of the data? Gartner reports shed light on the need for data and analytics leaders to encourage a data-literate organisational culture that values information as an asset.
Progress in this respect is seen with the growing number of chief data officers appointed to develop data literacy throughout their respective organisations. In addition, the adoption of business intelligence applications facilitates the interpretation of data analysis for non-technical employees.
Business freedom: The future
In the business word, knowledge really is power. For true freedom to be reachable, fundamental shifts in mentalities are necessary. Organisations are required to offer employees full data transparency with zero constraints and champion the way for company-wide data literacy.
While it is true that this would of course require supervision to ensure the data is carefully managed, this is no doubt worth it as more and more employees are able to efficiently make use of the information. It is time we put data in the hands of the many, not the few.
About the Author
Bernd Gross is CTO at Software AG. Software AG offers Freedom as a Service. We reimagine integration, spark business transformation and enable fast innovation on the Internet of Things so you can pioneer differentiating business models. We give you the freedom to connect and integrate any technology—from app to edge. We help you free data from silos so it’s shareable, usable and powerful – enabling you to make the best decisions and unlock entirely new possibilities for growth.