Talend Data Health: Redefining Expertise

By Talend Team

Guest article by Anthony Grasso in partnership with Talend.

Last month, my company’s finance department informed me that my car lease was about to expire. As an Italian, I’m drawn to aesthetics, elegance, comfort, and luxury – qualities that converge in Alfa Romeo’s sports cars, particularly the new Giulia.

To be honest, my instinct was to choose an ultra-powerful version to enjoy the experience of driving a car with hundreds of KW and NM of thrust for the next three years. Fortunately, Alfa Romeo’s catalog is expansive, and it forced me to run some numbers on the technical, financial, and environmental data.

The fossil fuel emissions stopped me in my tracks. While the most powerful cars give rise to a thousand positive emotions, they are also major contributors to greenhouse effects – costing humanity and future generations far more than their list price.

In the end, my spreadsheet led me to choose a car not based on its powertrain, but rather its overall performance, price, and environmental footprint.

So why am I telling you this story? I want to highlight the importance of using data to make objective, strategic, and well-considered decisions.

If I had simply let my instincts prevail, I would have made a mistake — one that I would have had to live with for the next three years. Instead, I used data to bridge the divide between my instincts (or, in this case, my appetites) and my intellect. Thanks to the numbers, I was able to take a step back, think rationally, and make a decision that served my needs, preferences, and values.

When it comes to higher-level business decisions, having the ability to rationalize is critical to remaining competitive in the market, navigating socioeconomic and political upheavals, fostering a productive and healthy workplace culture, and streamlining operations. And yet many executives continue to let instinct, self-confidence, and past performance dictate their major decisions.

Last week, when I participated in Talend Connect, I was alarmed by some of the statistics on this very topic. In the keynote delivered by Talend's CEO, Christal Bemont, she referred to a 2021 Qualtrics survey that was completed by 529 executives based in a variety of countries and working across industries and sectors. As it turns out, despite working with data on a daily basis, “36% of [the respondents] continue to follow their instincts” when it comes to strategic business decisions.

Said another way, over one-third of executives who likely have access to the latest software, the most sophisticated databases, and who may even have a team of in-house data scientists rely solely on their guts and self-assurance. The stakes today are far too high for this.

To be fair, I'm an executive, too, and I know how difficult it can be to set your pride and expertise aside in the face of competing information. Letting numbers override personal beliefs, hunches, and convictions is difficult. It can also be threatening. Naturally, we invent a whole series of excuses to assert ourselves, renew our confidence, and to maintain our professional edge. Maybe the data isn’t 100% reliable. Perhaps the calculations were not done properly, or the data is incomplete, we reason. But we do so at our own peril.

From my 38+ years of experience working as an executive within ICT, the quality of data at our fingertips is simply astounding. Market leaders like Talend invest considerable resources in R&D to iteratively refine their data collection and processing technologies. With this commitment and dedication, they can guarantee the integrity of their data at all stages of the governance process. Not surprisingly, for the sixth consecutive year, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant –a graphical competitive positioning of four types of technology providers in markets where growth is high and provider differentiation is distinct – selected Talend as a leader in data integration.

On a deeper level, Talend has made “data health” a possibility insofar as they create a virtuous cycle for integration, governance, and applicative interoperability (see my infographic below for a visual depiction of this).

Irrespective of where it originates, data health enables us to manage our businesses by allowing us to refer to data that is always ready, trustworthy, and accessible. This should sound an alarm bell in the minds of the 36% of executives who continue to let instinct alone rule their business decisions. While instinct certainly has its place in decision-making, we must put it to the test by pairing instinct with data, objective information, and reason. That way, when it comes time to make a more complex decision than choosing a new car, we can be sure we have made the right choice using data health in addition to our gut.

No doubt, the instincts of a good executive, when combined with the power of healthy data, will lead to the best possible outcomes.