There was a time in the not so distant past, when clients would ask why they needed two fields to accommodate the office and mobile telephone numbers for their employees. Why we would ever need to know that much about anyone and why that data would ever be valued, was actually questioned.

Uttering something like that now is of course completely arcane. The cloud has democratized computing power, and we have what would seem to be an unlimited ability – and a business imperative — to collect, unearth, and pull together as much data as we can, as we advance our quest for information.

Advances in democratizing information have of course permeated our lives outside of work faster than they have inside the proverbial cubical. If we want to take the dog out for a walk, we can glance at an app that has pulled together weather data in near real-time, displaying it in an irresistibly user-friendly manner to get an up-to-date forecast. If we see that it’s going to rain, we can put on a coat that was purchased and influenced by a recommendation engine on a favorite brand’s website. And we can quite literally ask our phone (or even our watch) as we walk to make recommendations on a dog-friendly spot we can pop into to dry off and get a cup of coffee (or tea, if you’re English like me).

But that reality has yet to pervade the enterprise. We know the data is there, and we want to leverage it. But we simply can’t get to it—at least, not easily. It often requires people who are particularly good at searching the innermost recesses of the database to uncover the information we need, and subject matter experts to turn data into meaningful insights. By the time we get our hands on it, the opportunity has passed, and the information is too out-of-date to lend any real relevance to the decisions we were trying to make.

So the data sits there, in the dark, never becoming the insight we need to make critical business decisions quite as informed as the simple act…