As I discussed in a recent webinar on how to develop a data strategy for analytics, the first step in developing any data strategy is to treat data as an asset versus a tactical input. You might be thinking to yourself – sure, that’s a sensible first step, but once we agree that data is an asset to us, who sits in the captain’s chair and steers the ship toward building and executing on the data strategy framework? Is it the CIO, a data scientist, or someone who leads the business unit?
Who Should Steer the Ship in Building and Executing Your Data Strategy Framework?
Ownership and execution of such a critical project is a tough question because the data is important to various stakeholders across your business. IT might view that data ownership falls to them in order to ensure there aren’t any blips in the infrastructure that might cause downtime. Business stakeholders are hoping data will provide insight into prospects, customer behavior, and competitive advantage to how they might shorten the funnel and increase retention. Lastly, the C-suite sees data strategy as key to driving the business forward and future-proofing business strategy. They might want to understand where there is duplication in processes and information in order to streamline costs. Everyone wants data for a different reason, at a different time.
Data Strategy Framework – Moving from Concept to Reality
In reality, there are a number of different and even conflicting interests in building a data strategy framework. A pragmatic approach is generally preferred. Even when creating a golden copy of data, you’ll want to provide for unique business unit needs with multiple versions of the truth, but manage them for the best results. And, this process needs a team leader, not a high priest.
As a result, more organizations are turning to a chief data officer (CDO), who is considered a member of the executive management team, to help them develop a strategy and coordinate input and priorities that align data based upon various constituent needs. Not to be confused with a chief digital officer or chief information officer, a chief data officer – and their team – determines what kinds of data the enterprise will choose to capture, retain, and transform into action, and the reason for choosing specific data over others. They will ensure the data they keep is quality, including completeness and accuracy of the data – a critical component of an effective data strategy.
Data Strategies Must Evolve as Business Needs Change
The data strategy is never a finished project, of course, and needs to change as business needs change. Both imagination and the ability to look down the road to anticipate data challenges ensures that your strategy is built in a way that allows for flexibility and accountability, while improving business results and operating efficiencies. The key objective is to develop a working approach that enables you to move the idea of “data as an asset” from concept to reality, and to retain that essential “golden copy” of data to drive true competitive advantage.
Your Competitive Advantage Depends on Data
Developing a data strategy framework or plan can feel daunting and time-consuming. Let’s face it, no one has extra time on their plate. But with data serving as the new economic currency, developing a data strategy becomes paramount to driving competitive advantage and ensuring your company not only thrives, but survives.
Learn more in my recent webinar on developing a data strategy for analytics.
Erik is the Senior Director, Product Marketing of Western Digital's Data Center Systems, with 25+ years of experience in high tech storage.