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‘Data Blending’ Offers Competitive Edge for Mid-Market Firms

While all businesses need data, the insight and information gleaned from it are becoming increasingly critical to mid-market enterprises.

Gone are the days when an excellent product, strong client service and a solid understanding of customer needs would suffice to keep a business viable—let alone profitable. In today’s competitive and increasingly information- dependent world, mid-market company leaders need quick and reliable access to key data for effective decision making.

Meanwhile, ever-increasing amounts of “big data” acquired by mid-market firms pose an additional challenge: finding the information needed for a specific business function. This has meant making sure the CTO or CIO has the staff and technology needed to sift through voluminous facts and figures, extract the relevant portions, and provide their CEOs with answers to their questions, fast.

These challenges can be addressed with data blending. A recent Harvard Business Review study defined data blending as “the process of combining data from multiple sources to create an actionable analytic data set either for business decision making or for driving a specific business process.”

“Top-performing midsize organizations utilize data blending tools to enable self-sufficient users and rapid time-to-insight.”

Essentially a data analytics methodology and toolset combined, data blending “gives business analysts self-service solutions to cleanse, enrich and join together the data they require,” according to HBR. In addition, these tools enable access to information from any number of disparate sources and formats. Data blending also allows managers to gather, synthesize and interpret data independently—without having to depend on IT specialists.

A study from the Aberdeen Group claims that with data blending, mid-market firms can outsmart—rather than outspend—their competition. Top-performing midsize organizations utilize data blending tools “to enable self-sufficient users and rapid time-to-insight,” the study said.

A primary reason for investing in data blending, according to Aberdeen, is the critical need to merge data from multiple sources, often in incompatible formats. And because managers can deploy these tools without IT specialists, they can get what they need quickly, “so more of their precious time can be devoted to analysis.”

Aberdeen’s research showed that mid-market analytics leaders were 3.6 times as likely to deploy data-blending tools in the line of business than mid-market analytics followers; 57% have improved the speed of decision making; and 35% have increased trust in the data underlying their analysis.

Data blending, the study concludes, enables mid-market firms to access, integrate and enrich data for more effective analysis. Mid-market leaders are using these capabilities for accelerated decision making, improved trust in data and analytics, and to enable a higher percentage of self-service users.


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