By: Marc Scheepbouwer, Practice Lead: Data Management It has become an accepted fact that data is the single most important resource organisations have, with the potential to transform companies, unleash organic growth, and even improve the human condition. And as consumers begin to voice their expectations for personalisation and customer experience, the need for data management has never been more strategic.Despite this compelling realisation, most businesses worldwide still don’t fully understand how to use their data effectively and aren’t proactively investing in this area. The Leader’s Data Manifesto, introduced at Experience Data World in 2017, initiated by some of the most respected data professionals across the globe summarised the status quo, still relevant today, best. “We are creating and collecting more data than ever before, but we still don’t know how to use it”“Many companies are succeeding with small-scale analytics, governance, quality, and other efforts. Still, we find no examples of fundamental, lasting, company-wide change without committed leadership and the involvement of everyone at all levels of the organisation.”They go further to highlight the challenge of becoming data-driven: “Most companies don’t fully know what data they have or even what data is most important; confuse “data” with “information technology” or digitalisation, leading them to mismanage both; lack any sort of data vision or strategy defining how data contributes to their business; underestimate the effort required to manage data and lack the organisational structure to do so.” These respected Data Leaders urge all of us, through our various roles and points of influence to engage in dialogue and education on the overall improvement of management to enable better use of data.Based on our extensive experience through various client data journeys, we offer the following advice to help deal with this challenge.1. Take a big picture viewData initiatives are often short-term, tactical, and fragmented rather than strategic and ambitious. Think about your goals and ambitions and how data can play a transformative role. If you’re starting with a small project – which is often more realistic – be sure that it fits into a vision and road map so that you can scale up, when necessary, for instance by building platforms/capabilities that can be reused for other initiatives2. Get leadership buy-inOften, the initial benefits of data projects are not visible and can be hard to quantify – making it difficult for budgets to be prioritised. Or project budgets are cut to free up capital. To prevent these roadblocks, leaders have to buy into data goals upfront and be ready to invest for the long haul. It is equally importance to continuously show and communicate value to sustain executive belief and support.3. Consider your cultureBecoming a data-driven organisation such as Amazon, Google or Meta requires investment in your culture and organisation. Engineering is only one factor for data success – people and governance are equally important if not more so. Data’s value cuts across the organisation and has the potential to change the way your employees work – so everyone must be on board.4. Share data assets not bottlenecksSharing data across the organisation underpins being data driven, promoting the natural alignment required for innovation and competitive advantage. Attempts at achieving this has involved putting in place a centralised team responsible for managing data. This may achieve some standards, but could unintentionally create bottlenecks, as this team tries to keep pace with business demands. Data fabric represents an emergent approach to deal with this challenge by allowing for the federation of data responsibility. A business domain (e.g., Sales) with the highest dependency, understanding and need for a particular subset of data, owns/governs it, enriches it, manages it, secures it, etc. Using a sophisticated form of abstraction, data fabric enables relevant elements of this data to then be shared with the rest of the organisation allowing for frictionless/trusted data movement. To heed the data leaders’ call to action and realise their vision for your organisation, we strongly encourage re-prioritising data-related initiatives, by adopting this modern form of data management to elevate your workforce into being truly data-driven.
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