Data & analytics (D&A) leaders should focus on collective intelligence to drive business value and D&A maturity, according to Gartner. Collective intelligence, driven by generative AI (GenAI) combines the problem-solving skills of humans and machines to create value.

Adam Ronthal, vice-president analyst at Gartner, and Alys Woodward, senior director analyst at Gartner, say that D&A leaders have a central role to play by providing the capabilities that facilitate decision and action, effectively unleashing collective intelligence.

Gartner research shows that D&A leaders are currently spending more of their time on changing culture, creating strategy, embedding D&A initiatives in the business and managing governance.

“Many D&A leaders get bogged down on strategy and culture issues,” says Ronthal. “Those leaders who prioritise governance focused activities such as managing the function, delivering projects and increasing governance maturity, tend to have better financial performance therefore unlocking D&A’s value.”

Determining AI ambition starts with the organisation’s business strategy or public mandate. This provides the intentional, strategic planning for where AI will be best utilised.

D&A leaders can help their CEOs and peers in leadership define their organisations’ AI ambition by examining the opportunities and risks of using GenAI in four areas: the back office, the front office, new products and services, and new core capabilities.

A fourth quarter 2023 Gartner survey of 644 global respondents found that GenAI is the most frequently deployed AI solution in organisations. However, 53% of 615 CIOs and technology leaders surveyed in the second quarter of 2023 said they were not sure that their organisations would be able to mitigate the risks of AI. This is where AI governance must come in to narrow that gap.

The Gartner survey of 479 chief data and analytics officers (CDAOs) in the fourth quarter of 2023 showed a strong correlation between overall D&A governance maturity and innovation. Organisations with mature D&A governance practices are 25% more likely to adopt data driven innovations – like AI.

The most impactful governance practices include:

* Providing business rules for data-driven decision-making.

* Key performance indicators for business outcomes.

* Adaptive governance for different use cases.

“By establishing the connection between AI-ready data, governance and business value, D&A leaders can immunise their organisations against potential AI risks,” says Woodward.

Gartner analysts recommend D&A leaders take three actions for leading people to create value together:

* Reorganise operating models to facilitate autonomy and flexibility: “Rapid evolution of D&A and AI technologies, such as GenAI, offers leaders the opportunity to rethink and evolve their operating models,” says Ronthal. In fact, the CDAO survey found that 75% of respondents were already evolving their operating models to enable them to better support innovation.

* Extend data literacy to master AI literacy: The Gartner CDAO survey found D&A leaders said AI education and data literacy will be getting more attention from their organisations in 2024. “Organisations should build on the momentum of data literacy to create masters of AI literacy,” says Ronthal. “Extending data literacy to AI literacy doesn’t have to involve a massive programme overhaul. It can be positioned as an extension of existing concepts, programmes, and frameworks.

* Distribute authority and responsibility for everyone to lead with purpose – from the core to the edge: Distributed leadership suggests that the relevant data is discovered at the edges and must be done along with the full team – informed by a shared vision and purpose. “In the new era of collective intelligence, success will be where organisational purpose meets D&A, literacy, and autonomy,” says Woodward.