You either love it or hate it, but data is here to stay. If it scares you, you can try to ignore it. If it comforts you, you probably want to crunch it. But the fact is: these days, every single action generates data. Just think about a random day in your life: your GPS route when driving to work, paying at the grocery store, the number of products you’ve sold at work, and so on. There is so much valuable information hiding in that data, which helps make our lives much easier. Whether it’s finding the fastest route to work, keeping an eye on your personal finances, or understanding what enabled you to sell so many products!
For a long time, BI specialists, data scientists, and other data experts were the answer to making sense of all that data. But today, everyone wants to be data-savvy, and find new insights without needing a Ph.D. in data science. Luckily, new emerging tools are opening up ‘citizen data science’: a way for anyone to make sense of their own data.
Citizen data scientists are on the rise. But what are they exactly? As Gartner puts it:
In other words, this is someone who has no background in data science or programming. However, they have a strong business background and combine that expertise with user-friendly technologies to make sense of their data and make smart business decisions.
These business users are widespread across any organization, with some of the most common roles being:
However, the ability to turn data into insights yourself isn’t only of value in a business context. Also individual consumers rely on data to make better decisions in their private lives.
The main reason data consumers are looking to access data insights is to become smarter. Data can help them figure out what their ‘next best action’ is, which makes their lives easier.
But which insights are they looking for specifically? Let’s illustrate a couple of common use cases for citizen data scientists.
These are just a couple of scenarios where business users and consumers are taking matters into their own hands, and making their data actionable without the help of a data scientist.
I can hear you thinking: “Why make it difficult? Just ask a data scientist or data expert to give them the right insights.”
Well, there are multiple reasons why data consumers are taking over the steering wheel:
New technology allows business users and consumers to take ownership of their data. They can now make relevant data-driven decisions without being dependent on technical staff.
From the point of view of an end-user, a consumer, or an employee, this is revolutionary. But why should you care about it as a technology product vendor? And why should you even encourage it?
First of all, B2B SaaS companies will help drive positive change in the organization of their end-users. Equipping users with the tools they need to analyze their own data will:
Likewise, B2C apps can give consumers ownership over their consumption data. Just think about the many banking and fitness apps that exist. What if users of those apps could get the possibility not only to explore their own financial or health data, but even to create their own “infographics”, completely personalized to their needs?
People love knowledge, and therefore they love data. So the more knowledge you give at their disposal, the more your product will stick.
New emerging technologies enable anyone to look at their data critically, whether in a B2B or B2C context. No business user should only be limited to a single data snapshot created by a data scientist with less business context. Let them explore and create their own view on the data, based on the expertise and context they bring to the table. Let them spit to the bottom of their data until they find the exact insight they need, without writing a single line of code.
As a result, your platform or app users will get much richer insights and become a truly data-driven organization. And for your SaaS platform or consumer app, it means more engaged users and very likely, business growth.
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