Looking back over the decades, it's clear that the PC created a monster, and the smart phone gave the beast its bad attitude.
The monster is the business worker as technology owner, and the attitude dictates that they expect full access to new technologies, to data, and to the world. Prior to the PC, data was what we saw on sheets of paper or what we found in research volumes like business directories, atlases, or phone books. You do remember books, right?
Yes, there was data stashed on computers prior to the PC, but it was the technologist, not the business person who determined who got access to that precious data, how, and when. Woe be to those who dared pass through those glass doors to the MIS department.
We know that the PC changed all that, steamrolling the technologists at the gate. We had our own data at our fingertips. Of course, the Internet and the smart phone extended that reach, far beyond our desktops to the world whenever we wanted it.
Now we face the question of whether to give business users -- let's get crazy and say consumers too -- access to the analytics tools that have been nurtured by database professionals, analysts, and data scientists. We're starting to hear about users who won't be satisfied with dashboards or limited query capabilities on carefully selected data sources.
Consider the emergence of the citizen data scientist, where one writer said, "Employees in multiple parts of an organization are empowered with the analytics tools and skills to get the answers they need from their data." Today you might be hearing about companies -- Sears in the above case -- giving more powerful tools to selected individuals in a handful of departments, setting them free to do their own data science.
I wonder how how soon the commoners in the cubicle farm all will be demanding their own data science tools to answer their own business questions.
The topic of citizen data science has been floated here on All Analytics a few times. In each case the response from the analytics pros tends to be, "Not here. They need us. The company needs us. They can't be trusted doing what we do. It's our data."
Sorry, but the time is approaching when the business user doesn't ask for access to their own analytics but demands that access. The saying, it's not a matter of "if" but "when" certainly applies.
So, I think the better question for the All Analytics community is "how" you enable citizen science. Do you do what MIS/IT did back in the early PC days and say, "No, no, never"? The risk there is that departments will circumvent you and your barricades.
How can you and your organization prepare to answer the demands for more common access to analytics? I suspect that smart organizations are already planning for it by re-evaluating data policies and access rights. They might be looking at analytics tools that are designed for use by common folk under the guidance of data science pros.
Could that change the role of the data scientist and analyst, rather than eliminate them? Does it make sense that those organizations might look at the analytics professional not as a gatekeeper but as an enabler, even an innovator?
Do you see your organization moving toward citizen data science.