Imagine this scenario: a hospital needs to cut costs. To save money, the hospital’s executives decide to reduce the amount of paperwork associated with patient files. Doctors and nurses are no longer allowed to immediately view patient records themselves. Instead, every time a doctor or nurse has a question or wants to know more about a patient’s medical history or even a blood type, he or she must ask one of the hospital’s new patient adviser for the information. Though they’re not trained health care professionals themselves, and in fact they have no experience in medicine, the advisers are the only people at the hospital who have access to patient data. Doctors and nurses have to submit requests and then wait for hours, sometimes days, for the advisers to get back to them. In the meantime, the sick go untreated.

Obviously, no one would ever choose to run a hospital this way. Yet far too many businesses operate under similar principles. IT and analysts handle data analytic requests. An impenetrable wall separates the IT department, which processes reports and analyzes data, from business users who actually need to use this information to succeed. With data analysis in the hands of the few, rather than the many, questions fester for weeks. Moreover, the growth and creativity of individual employees and the company as a whole are impeded.

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