According to one software and services company, data is ‘the new water’ in our information-driven world. It’s essential for businesses to live and grow, just as water is for people.

But it hasn’t always been this way…

Data used to be a limiting factor when it came to business intelligence. Often you simply couldn’t get the data you wanted. And when you could, you either didn’t have the tools to see it the way you wanted to, or you couldn’t see it fast enough, often enough or recent enough. As a result, businesses were often in a data drought.

This was the case until the 1950s, when data technology really started to manifest and solve the problem of data accessibility. Since then, more and more data has become available to the point that now, we are living in the big data era and drowning in the stuff.

Back when data was in short supply, businesses began to focus a lot more on using what little they could get effectively. As a result, business intelligence expertise developed and BI solutions matured to the point where, today, they can do pretty much anything you can think of. Big data technology allows you to stream, store and analyse huge amounts of structured and unstructured data very cheaply. All this has brought advanced analytical insight within everyone’s grasp.

So in the current era the limiting factor is no longer the data itself, but the people who are trying to use it. The challenge for businesses now is to learn how to drink only the ‘clean water’, and in the right way. Think of it like this: you may have access to a lake full of water (data), but you can only drink so much before you start to feel ill.

You don’t want to end up drowning in your data either. True business intelligence development doesn’t simply mean creating and relying on more and more data and information, just because the tools make this so easy to do. The tools alone cannot keep you afloat. So don’t waste money investing in the wrong BI solutions – remember a farmer needs a tractor not a Maserati!

And talking of farmers… it’s crucial to remember that you cannot survive off water alone. Your water source should also be used to grow your crops. Following this analogy, data shouldn’t be purely what your business feeds off. Ultimately, in order to grow and thrive, you need to align your data with people and processes if you want your business intelligence development to lead to results that have real value.

So, the best advice here is to start with your goals and processes in order to work out which ones really require the help of data. From this, you can work out what kind of business intelligence you need and the tools that will help you deliver it. This, in a nutshell, is Saltare’s 4dBI philosophy. Keep this philosophy as your focus and remember, always drink sensibly…