Building a Data-Driven Culture: Successful Organizations are Data-Centric
It’s easy to find lists of why data is vital to an organization. For instance, here are some of the top reasons listed below:
- Finding new customers
- Increasing customer retention
- Enabling strategic approaches
- Improving customer service
- Managing marketing efforts
- Tracking social media interactions
- Predicting sales trends
Other reasons might include saving time and increasing ROI, identifying problems, and gaining funding.
Those all are compelling reasons and, of course, there no doubt are dozens of others. They are strategic and tactical. An important realization arising from the very fact that there are so many uses of data is that ways must be developed to make it accessible for uses that are not necessarily apparent when the systems storing that data are built.
Your organization must not only have data. It must have data sorted that is ready to use.
That’s a challenge. Discreet siloes in which data is available to one department or for one purpose but is not properly formatted and available to others are antiquated. A systematic approach in which data is available across the corporate landscape — but at the same time is protected and secured — is necessary.
Data management, clearly, is as exacting as it is valuable. For instance, documents related to financial and health records must meet specific security standards. These vary across state and international boundaries and differ from the requirements for other departments. For instance, rules and laws concerning data custody – a record of who had permission to see, alter or otherwise interact with a particular record – must be maintained for certain records for legal reasons. Policies governing the monitoring, control, and security of data shared with contractors and other third parties must be created and enforced. Ways of keeping data accurate, such as updating addresses or noting when people pass away, must be part of the system.
These complex requirements require sophisticated and agile tools. Various software development and IT outsourcing companies have answered the call and created elegant software platforms that securely, seamlessly, and automatically upgrade data and provide users with the ability to create graphically pleasing customized presentations that cut across data silos to find what is needed. These end users don’t need to know the first thing about programming.
Savvy organizations will use these tools. They also will find people capable of making sure that all of these pieces fit together well. Policies must be written and technologies from different vendors must be customized to work together seamlessly as platforms evolve over time.
A wildcard that makes this tall task even more imposing is that mission-critical data is being used outside the office on a far more regular basis than before the development of sophisticated mobile devices and, of course, the lingering COVID-19 pandemic.
The best advice is to have a data-centric organization. One tech industry expert at TechTarget summed it up well:
“Data increasingly is seen as a corporate asset that can be used to make more-informed business decisions, improve marketing campaigns, optimize business operations, and reduce costs, all with the goal of increasing revenue and profits. But a lack of proper data management can saddle organizations with incompatible data silos, inconsistent data sets and data quality problems that limit their ability to run business intelligence (BI) and data analytics applications — or, worse, lead to faulty findings.”
This is a very complex task. The key is simple, however: Organizations that follow best practices and build data awareness into their organization from the ground up are in a far better position to reap benefits and avoid pitfalls than those that scramble to jerry-rig their data platforms retroactively.