Deliver small and wide data with digital documents

Gartner Says 70% of Organizations Will Shift Their Focus From Big to Small and Wide Data

Written by Ian C. Tomlin | 16th December 2023

Gartner is speaking about small and wide data but what do they mean?  Read this article to get up-to-speed on how businesses are re-thinking their consumption of business data to create data-driven decisions with solutions like Encanvas’ digital documents.

Dashboards Aren’t Good For Business

A dashboard is a human interface that helps humans to understand data. At one time, the use of dashboards was all the rage in business. But not so much today.

Every dashboard requires a human to power it which costs time and money.

Dashboards have traditionally been designed for back-office users to make sense of data, interpret it, to then send out reports and make decisions. That doesn’t make sense either. Better instead to have automated, conversational, mobile, and dynamically generated insights customized to a user’s needs and delivered to their point of consumption. That way, data becomes actionable and reaches the people best placed to lever its value.

That’s where digital documents come in.

How digital documents create ‘small and wide’ data analytics

In this era of digital transformation, big data and composable applications, the digital document is king. It means that individual analytical experiences can be created at scale, and speed. The way Gartner describes this is is ‘small and wide’ data analytics

“Small and wide data, as opposed to big data, solves several problems for organizations dealing with increasingly complex questions on AI and challenges with scarce data use cases. Wide data — leveraging “X analytics” techniques — enables the analysis and synergy of a variety of small and varied (wide), unstructured and structured data sources to enhance contextual awareness and decisions. Small data, as the name implies, can use data models that require less data but still offer useful insights.”—Gartner

How digital documents create ‘small and wide’ data analytics

Digital documents take analytics to the edge.  Today, more data analytics technologies live outside of the traditional data center and cloud environments. This move from centralized data processing and analytics to edge technologies, like digital documents, reduces or eliminates latency for data-centric solutions and enables more real-time value.

Preparing data — the crucial role of data fabrics

Anyone that’s been involved in data analytics and producing dashboards and reports knows that getting the right data, at the right quality, and at the right time is the biggest challenge. Once these challenges have been overcome, presenting data these days is pretty straightforward. But getting the data stuff right is tremendously time-consuming and, unless automation are involved, they can mean late night for someone with a spreadsheet.  Thankfully, data fabrics underpin digital documents to establish a higher standard of data accessibility, integrity and quality. Rather than performing the heavy lifting of integration, extract, transform and load functions, digital documents only need to concentrate on shaping the end product, maybe a little blending of data from different tables and making it pretty—not much more.

Moving from dashboards to answers

In an era of artificial intelligence and machine-to-machine workflows, it doesn’t make much sense to build dashboards for people to look at when all they need is to know when change happens. Advanced digital document analytical solutions work with software bots (in the data fabric) to automate data alerts highlighting to humans when they need to examine data, rather than asking them to look at dashboards that yield limited value.

Answering new questions

One reason centralized data analytics fails lies in the fact that information workers these days are constantly curious, repeatedly asking new questions of data. Serving up all these queries in the form of dashboards and charts is an impossible task. The solution is to give information workers their own codeless tools to examine data and answer their own questions, while serving up high quality insights.

The only minor challenge is getting the balance right in this equation; I.e., ensuring information workers know enough about the data they’re looking at to appreciate its context of use. For example, when invoices aren’t billed until the end of the month, the only time during a month that some financial records will present a complete picture for decision makers is the minute after the last record is reconciled. Combining a digital data fabric with a composable solution like digital documents gives IT professionals the best possible opportunity to get this balance right for stakeholders.

The ambition of many business leaders in the digital age is to create a team of people in a business that are constantly curious, constantly questioning the norm and working out the difference of doing better things over doing things better.

Forging this new style of enterprise demands that information workers are given the tools to do the job. Access to information and information systems is key to this. But to democratize and de-skill IT comes with risks. Setting the right balance between IT and the business is the rump issue. Adopting a cloud native digital platform that offers a composable solution for information consumption, underpinned by a data fabric, may be a good way to achieve the results you seek.