The Commitment To Data

Zach Hill
Zach Hill
Nov 26, 2019

Data is everywhere. Data in our web browsers, it’s in our phones, it’s in our cars, and it’s all around us at work. The trick is being able to utilize that data. It seems obvious when we hear that Amazon is using that data to help improve the efficiencies of their warehouses or that Google is using that data to provide us better more targeted ads based around what we as individuals like. It’s a little less obvious when we’re asked to utilize data to make decisions in our every day lives. As intuitive as it sounds it feels very challenging to take the first step.

The Commitment

Data should be accessible to everyone and anyone within an organization.

In 2019 I made it not just a goal but a motto that data be available to absolutely everyone within Think|Stack.

Why?

Because I don’t have any idea what brilliant ideas someone else may come up with and it is my role to enable and empower everyone that opportunity. Providing someone useable and actionable data is a lot like sitting a kid down in front of a large box of legos. There is no telling what creative outcomes their may be, oh we can guess that perhaps a spaceship, a house, or play scene will be built but you’ll always be surprised by the specifics of the creation.

Making Data Accessible

Build a Data Lake or Data Warehouse.

Imagine a Data Lake where the data is the water in the lake. The water may enter the lake from rain or a river upstream. The water, data in this case, can flow from the lake out of various rivers or streams to be utilized by employees or tools for analysis. The data is more amorphous but it’s easier to both get data into the system and to maintain.

Imagine a Data Warehouse as an enormous warehouse where the crates or boxes inside is the data. It’s more structured and requires more planning and maintenance to keep everything nice and ordered but you know which isle and shelf to find any given item.

At Think|Stack we utilize a Data Lake, which is built from a few Amazon Web Services (AWS) components.

View of a lake from a boat or canoe. There are mountains in the background and a partly cloudy sky above.

We feed all of the important data that we have in from our various tools. Things such as:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool
  • Office 365

In a later blog post I’ll dive into some of the technical aspects that we utilize in building and using our data lake.

The Outcome

We’re still in the infancy of the reports and analytics that the team has been coming up with. Watching each evolution of reports or ideas that our team has come up with is fantastic. People come to meetings with real data to back up their ideas. Problems arise and the team knows where to look to find both the root cause and also a solution. We have dashboards that give any person within Think|Stack the ability to know and understand what state any system, process, or business aspect is in.

 

Think|Stack as a whole can now quickly discard or move on from failed experiments. We can focus on what’s working and working well. We’re a team of smart people who have all been enabled to make technology work for us.