A strong data strategy will give you a leg up on your competition in tough economic times.
Times are tight. Every organization is looking for a way to gain a competitive edge, cut costs, and prepare for the future. Amid economic uncertainty, you may even think it's best to hunker down and wait out the potential storm.
I'd offer an alternative suggestion – use this time to re-assess your priorities, double down on your strengths, and get ahead of your competition.
But where do you start?
The answer is more straightforward than you might think – start with your data. It underpins everything in your organization. When your data strategy, governance, and analytics are all in proper working order, your organizational strengths and weaknesses will be properly illuminated.
While the answer may be simple, the execution is often not.
We recommend answering three key questions to address the direction of your data strategy and prepare a strong data foundation to weather any economic storm!
Is Your Data an Enabler for the Business?
If the answer to this question is 'no,' your data program probably won't be terribly useful to anyone. Your organization's data needs to be accurate, integrated into all critical systems, and enable the business in a meaningful way. Most data modernization efforts have a strong focus on driving technical and IT efficiency while promising key benefits like eliminating expensive license costs, modernizing systems, attracting engineering talent, and reducing data processing efforts. While all important aspects to a program, we recommend primarily focusing on enabling new abilities for the business.
Enter value-based delivery.
This concept is one of the most powerful tools available to organizations to help power through potential economic downturns. By partnering with business stakeholders to generate a data strategy, you will provide tangible value and be able to incorporate a value measurement capability into the plan.
For instance, a $2M program budget is much more easily attainable when there is a planned and measurable $4M ROI.
In our experience, we find value in connecting the work we do to key performance indicators instead of just delivering with the hope it will help the business's performance. While it might sound obvious, you'd be surprised how infrequently programs structure around metrics in this manner. As a result, long technology roadmaps often fail to produce quick wins that provide immediate value and pay for the overall program.
Is Data Governance a Central Component of Your Strategy?
Sadly, most organizations overlook data governance altogether when building and executing a data strategy. We define data governance as a comprehensive process of cataloging, applying access controls, and providing visibility into your organization's data and processes.
Data governance implementation is often very vast, but it's so important to engage the people who normally consume your data in the process of managing that data. It's increasingly common to put data product owners or stewards in charge of building your data warehouse. These individuals are typically privy to the value the business needs from the data warehouse and have the necessary context to make it work. Successful organizations will maintain a strong central team to build enterprise data assets, and have an active, ongoing partnership with their data consumers.
When done correctly, data governance tooling and processes will allow the people who understand the business value to have visibility and take ownership of how the data is delivered and managed across the organization.
Another key outcome of placing data governance at the center of your strategy is the ability to make more informed decisions. You’ll have the complete picture and can align decisions around business priorities rather than creating business priorities based on data.
Does Your Strategy Emphasize Optimization Capabilities?
If not, it really should. Here we think about optimization as leveraging your data for more than one purpose – maybe not a mind-blowing concept at first glance. Still, it’s interesting how infrequently we see this happening at companies. Most organizations follow traditional setups where you have separate analytics, operations, and data pathways. Optimizing your data weaves the entire program together!
If you’re currently in the cloud and have modern tooling, optimizing the tooling and processes to do more with less is much easier. If designed properly, your data platform should be able to support all the key pillars of your business for the main types of enterprise consumers – analytics, operations, and master data management.
Ultimately, the aim is to ensure that your diverse data consumers across the organization are using the same data. With that, you can find operational savings, create consistent customer experiences, improve service, and generate more accurate financial reporting. There’s really no downside.
Preparing for the Coming Year
As you finalize your plans for the upcoming year, it's well worth prioritizing your data strategy. In times of economic turmoil, reliable data is critical to the success of any initiative. Beyond that, it's a source of significant ROI and can help build a resilient, efficient, and effective organization.
If you answered 'no' to any of the key questions above, we would be happy to guide how to initiate value-based delivery, create a robust data governance foundation, and develop optimization capabilities that will set you up for success.