Developing a data strategy is central to ensuring your business can respond to disruptions and opportunities says leading consultant Günter Richter
Unlocking data will unlock business opportunities. To release data effectively and set free new prospects, organisations need a data strategy. A data strategy provides the organisation with the foundations for ensuring successful business outcomes, with data driving insight, and therefore decision making and innovation.
Data’s role in the business and therefore, its strategy, is to enable a greater understanding of the organisation, its customers, and its environment, and how it will achieve its objectives. With a highly developed understanding of the business, its leaders can make decisions safe in the knowledge that the data they are using to make those decisions is well-governed and managed and therefore reliable. Vital decision making on key areas such as investment returns, business actions and compliance is therefore based on good evidence.
A data strategy, therefore, is not a document or a one-off project; it must enable business benefits constantly. This means it will be a living product that constantly adapts and delivers new business advantages.
Developing and implementing an organisational data strategy shares many similarities to the implementation of a digital transformation programme. It cannot be ignored that a digital transformation will not succeed without being data-led. Organisations, therefore, need to modernise and strategise their approach to data. Both transformations will result in a significant change in the way the enterprise operates, acts towards customers and team members, and leverages the assets of the business.
Being ready for business change
Introducing the subject of data in board meetings will quickly reveal from senior leadership peers an unlimited number of data-enabled business needs, but in any organisation, there is a limit to resources. A defined data strategy will provide the mechanism for prioritising data projects; data acquisition and technology programmes. As a result, there is an opportunity to meet many needs of the business lines and their leaders (and we often find some needs are unnecessary). At the heart of this prioritisation is the need to provide flexibility to the organisation. The events of 2020 and the global pandemic demonstrated how organisations with an ability to respond to events were those that remained viable. Across many vertical markets old revenue channels became a health and safety risk, but with a strong data strategy, organisations that Adatis works with were able to develop new services and approaches to either protect income streams or develop entirely new business propositions.
Adaptability is not just the preserve of global pandemics, in the digital economy that has been transforming business and society; organisations need a data strategy and architecture that provides opportunities for experimentation and new business methods. That same data architecture is how organisations can guarantee that innovation is secure, and does not create new risks or maintenance headaches to the business.
Business-oriented, not technological
Data strategy is often considered to be a technology programme by organisations. Yes, technology provides the tooling for collecting, managing and more importantly describing data, but data management is a business-wide challenge and opportunity. Adatis has developed data strategies for organisations in education, financial services, government, healthcare, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, retail and utilities. The key to developing a data strategy is to step back. In every engagement, my team and I will really get to know your business, its objectives, the challenges the vertical market faces, and at first sight some of the discussion may not seem to relate to data at all. But it is only by truly understanding your organisation that Adatis can then begin to layer the data on top of the insights garnered from these conversations.
The future state of a data strategy must be almost identical to the horizon of the organisation. Just as developing a data strategy is a journey, so too is the process of engaging a consultant to guide the mapping of that strategy to meet the ambitions of the business.
At Adatis we seek to quickly and fully understand the data maturity of the organisation, because that insight allows the engagement to rapidly deliver benefits to improvements in customer service, operational excellence and other high-value business transformations. In addition, data maturity understanding will shape which skills, technology and services are delivered against the data strategy. The aim is to ensure your organisation succeeds, and pragmatic implementation steps and knowledge transfer into your organisation, in my experience, deliver success to both parties.
More than two decades of data and information management consulting has demonstrated to me just how powerful data-led insight is to organisations, teams and individuals. Data strategies that are well executed and implemented can result in benefits to the organisation such as dynamic pricing, improved fraud detection, reduced customer churn, lowered business risk, improved demand and staffing management, and products and services personalised to the end-customer’s experience.
Business agility relies on a data strategy that ensures evidence-based decision making, allowing the business to rapidly and securely respond to events.