You read about it all the time: data is an asset, it’s important, and it’s crucial to your business. The literature is clear, there is no debate that leveraging business and organizational data is essential to business growth. What is less obvious, however, is how to actually access and draw insights out of data.
Think pieces typically outline the benefits of complete data understanding while making assumptions about organizations’ data environments. Most organizations are nowhere close to leveraging their data in a meaningful way to drive innovation and business growth. And yet, articles and thought leaders tend to offer advice as if organizations are in a ready state to gain insights from their data.
For larger organizations or those without a data strategy, the truth is that finding, understanding and actioning your data is a process, not a time-boxed project. And though articles about gaining insight into your data are exciting, you need to start from where you currently are. All worthwhile journeys begin with the first step.
From Ignorance to Opportunity
An organization that doesn’t have a complete understanding of its data doesn’t have a clear picture of what’s happening in their business. Perhaps a seemingly unfair statement, but it’s true. Operating from a place of ignorance, not understanding where files, reports and data exist and what they contain, leaves your organization in the dark and at risk.
Surprisingly, this is a familiar place for many companies. In fact, only 7% of organizations have fully implemented digital transformations. As a result, the vast majority of organizations are not operating with a complete understanding of their business and customers.
If this is where you find your organization, in an ever-evolving world with ever-expanding markets, change is needed. Being honest with where your company currently is places you in a position of power and presents an opportunity to make the needed decisions to leverage data and improve your business.
Internal and External Data Considerations
From a position of power, acknowledging that a data-first approach as an ongoing process is an important next step. It’s also important to note that there are different forms of data with different values associated.
For instance, many companies are customer-focused and invest in data and information gathering solutions that focus on the customer. This is a crucial component of a data-focused strategy, however, it’s only part of the picture.
Beyond the customer is your own internal data ecosystem, which impacts everything from your employees to production and output. Investing in and prioritizing data solutions that allow your employees and teams to work smarter, faster and with greater efficiency ultimately enhances production and benefits your customers.
Planning and implementing a data strategy that focuses on both internal and external data silos and how they relate to each other helps to provide needed context for complex decision making. And crucially, identifying and leveraging technology solutions that help to break down silos and reveal complete data understanding across an organization will better support business decisions and overall growth.
Technology Solutions: Focus on the How
When implementing any data strategy or data-first process, technology solutions are a vital tool to unlock the insights contained within your data. Focusing on the how of any technology solution will help you ask the right questions to choose the right solution.
How will this technology support our strategy? How will it support end users? How will it work in sync with other technology solutions, repositories and files shares to achieve our goals? How will it reveal and visualize insights? How much change management is needed for implementation?
Knowing how a technology will function, affect workflows, impact user experience, and visualize findings and insights is key to understanding your larger data picture. Paying attention to the how will support the process of implementing a data strategy, and help you reimagine and rethink how data can support your business.
Remember that if you are embarking on a data strategy or digital transformation for the first time, you’re not alone. Understanding your data is a process, one to invest in and that will benefit your company for years to come.
For more information on the importance of and how to leverage your data, watch our introductory Data Intelligence 101 webinar, part of our Data Understanding series.