Putting the sexy back in data automation

Whether it’s data they own or data they purchase, leaders across every industry know they need it and are investing in ways to get it.

Tue Feb 13 16:15:00 EST 2018

Ask any business leader what their top priorities are, and most all will have data on the list. Whether it’s data they own or data they purchase, leaders across every industry know they need it and are investing in ways to get it. For many, “data” is a shiny object, and they believe that once their organization has it, data will solve all their greatest challenges.

Unfortunately, this vision has not become a reality for the majority of business leaders. Instead, according to a recent Forrester study, 70 percent of leaders who’ve purchased data are challenged with the quality and accuracy of it, and 69 percent of leaders find themselves either unable to maintain the quality of the data, or detect and track changes to that data. This results in real operational challenges to deliver the envisioned ROI from data usage.

Over time, most shiny objects lose their luster, and their flaws become more evident and more obtrusive. Data is no different.

It’s evident that the ability to automate data updates and deliver quality data in real-time is an enormous challenge today. That’s why data suppliers have begun to incorporate capabilities that address these challenges and ensure clients are always receiving the highest-quality data—and they’re using Software Development Kits (SDKs) to do it.

Historically, SDKs have been used to allow developers to quickly enable function commonality, enrich software applications with advanced functionality, and create a shorter time to value. Because SDKs have been around for a while, they are often overlooked, in favor of their trendier cousin, the API.  But like APIs, SDKs are also designed to make the end user’s job much more efficient.  When applied to downloadable data sets, SDKs have the same impact on delivering shortened time to value.  

For example, most bulk datasets today are delivered through file transfer protocols (FTPs), a web browser, or other type of provisioning mechanism that requires manual download. Each time an update is available, the end user must manually log into the system and download the product update, and manually input it into their internally-specified location.

SDKs eliminate this process completely. Rather than requiring manual steps for the download process, SDKs allow a user to run a script that finds and fetches the data and automatically places it in the user-specified location. In turn, the end user is able to spend less time on administrative work, and more time on innovation.

Pitney Bowes knows firsthand how effective SDKs can be. Our company is both a data supplier and a data integrator, and we currently access data from over 50 commercial data suppliers and hundreds of government entities. We use these inputs to build many of our products, and we understand the need for process efficiencies along the way.

That’s why we aim to deliver products that we would want to purchase ourselves—products that are designed to reduce cycle time and reflect best practices. Pitney Bowes is a key advocate for data accessibility and automation, and our new Software & Data Marketplace not only allows business leaders to sample, visualize and download data through an online platform, but it allows clients to never have to think twice about the quality of that data. Our data download SDK capabilities ensure that you have an easy way to ensure your data is always up to date, and that you can spend your time applying your data to make a real business impact.

Unfortunately, many business leaders aren’t considering automation capabilities when they purchase data sets, hence why they are challenged with tracking, maintenance, quality and accuracy. However, when leaders obtain data sets with SDKs, life gets a whole lot easier—and the quality of the data increases by leaps and bounds.

As data continues to become a top business commodity, business leaders will need to consider not just what data they’re purchasing, but how they’re actually accessing that data. Data accessibility and automation isn’t a sexy topic, but neither is brushing your teeth. Like brushing teeth, data accessibility and automation is an absolute necessity to avoid major problems down the road.

To learn more about our data capabilities and how you can access them right now, visit the Software and Data Marketplace online.