Why Do We Wait in Line for Data?

As a Boston commuter, my attitude towards public transportation is a combination of sincere appreciation and healthy skepticism. Each day, the weather and traffic present a new set of challenges for my commute, and each day is a choose-your-own-adventure story where I decide to get to work by setting out on foot, renting a bike, catching the train, or hailing an Uber.

 

“Is the Green Line on-schedule?”, “Is it supposed to rain/snow later?”, “How bad is traffic?”, and the ever-hopeful “Do I have any Uber credits?” all factor into my decision.

 

Fortunately, I can answer all these questions on my smartphone in a matter of minutes. I can quickly make an informed decision without setting down my travel mug of coffee.

 

Why does it feel like this flexibility stops at the door of work? We’re flooded with data when we shop, travel, and connect with friends on the internet. At work, however, we frequently wait in line for the data we need to do our jobs.

 

Let’s take a closer look at why this happens.

  • Data is a (painfully) manual process. At most companies, it’s someone’s job to create the files you need. This usually means running a SQL query, VLOOKUP-ing, transforming, and cleansing data. If this has to happen every time you want numbers, it’s no wonder you’re still waiting on that file.
  • Your company’s data is all over the place. Answering questions with data usually involves joining together different sources. Your team needs to see data from an accounting system, a Salesforce portal, and the Excel file that’s on your desktop. Adding a new data source takes time because business rules need to be setup and maintained, and logic needs to be documented. Chances are, unless it’s a well-documented business process or a heavily-utilized report, you’re not getting that sales report until IT can pull in the CRM data next month.
  • Internal bottlenecks. We all know how quickly priorities shift. The board meeting is tomorrow, and we need new numbers now! If you’re waiting for a data set from IT, they’ll deprioritize your needs to meet those of leadership. Suddenly, you’re in the back of the queue even though you submitted your request months ago.
  • You don’t have access. Data analysts are explorers at heart. “I just want to see what’s out there” they object. If an analyst thinks they see an issue but can’t articulate exactly what is wrong, they’ll want to search high and low to find anything that sticks out. But when the technical gatekeepers deny their access, this stops their progress.

 

We wait in line for data because our businesses are constantly evolving, and IT processes are always a half-step behind. Whether you’re an analyst, an intern, or a VP, your access to the information you need to make decisions shouldn’t stop when you sit down at work.

 

Want to learn how Autodaas can eliminate lines for data? Click here to get in touch.