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Effective database management requires collaboration among employees, departments

Paul Newman Archive

At its most basic level, data analysis is an endeavor that's largely handled by corporate IT offices. Much of the legwork that goes into the big data movement is highly technical - ranging from the use of survey tools to collect consumer information, to the servers used to store it all, to the analysis solutions used to crunch numbers and find actionable results. All of this takes place behind the closed doors of the office of a company's CIO and his closest advisors.

Applying the lessons learned from big data, however, is an experience that can help everyone in a company thrive, including those employees well beyond the IT corner of the office. Therefore, it's important that data analysis initiatives include the use of cross-disciplinary teams, which work together both to improve data quality and to look for smarter ways of applying analytical findings.

According to Information Management, companies should build these teams using professionals with a variety of talents, including people with technical skills and those who specialize in the critical thinking that will lead to true business results. Data quality expert Jim Harris advises that all of these disciplines are important.

"A cross-disciplinary team will be needed because data quality is neither a business nor a technical issue - it is both," Harris stated. "Therefore, you will need the collaborative effort of business and technical folks. The business folks usually own the data, or at least the business processes that create it, so they understand its meaning and daily use. The technical folks usually own the hardware and software comprising your data architecture."

Offices are interconnected
Harris likens a large enterprise to a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Just as it's hard to figure out which actor was in what movie with which co-star, it can be equally difficult to understand the inner workings of a big company, knowing who works with whom. Data analysis, however, has the potential to bring together workers across a wide variety of business pursuits.

Analytics can help HR manage talent better. They can aid financiers with budgeting their companies, marketers with advertising their products and legal teams with protecting their interests. If technicians and analysts can collaborate effectively with all of these departments, they can help their businesses realize their full potential. Otherwise, they're missing a lot of opportunities to achieve tangible results.