Are You Data-Driven? Six Steps To Data Transformation
Data: people will sell it like it’s a magic elixir, won’t they? It’s as if data is the ideal cure all for what ails’ ya. It’s been called the new oil, as if you can plop it on some creaky joints and suddenly you’ll be moving faster than the Tin Man down the yellow brick road. They say data will help you make better decisions, sell more wares, and smooth out troublesome processes; heck, it can even help you win an election. Much of this is true. Data, when harnessed properly has an unmatched ability to move an organization forward and offer it a market advantage. Although, it may not fix the paper jam in the copier. That probably still requires some good old-fashioned elbow grease, at least for now.
Data is magical– like Harry Potter waving a magic wand magical. It’s so magical, the Magic Kingdom is using data to make its experience more magical. It’s helping Netflix offer more personalized movie choices when you sit down, popcorn in hand, on a Saturday night. Starbucks will now have your favorite coffee waiting for you in the morning at the push of a button. If I get in my car at 6:30am on a weekday, my smartphone, without any prompts, will tell me how long it will take me to get to the gym. How does it know where I’m going? Data, man. Also, is it just me or is Facebook’s “People You May Know” feature just a little too on point? It’s all data. The organizations listed above are using data in unique ways to make processes more efficient and experiences better, if occasionally, in ways that might seem a tad bit creepy.
Data maturity is built through the development of infrastructure and processes that have an ability to turn raw data into intelligence then knowledge and then finally into wisdom. Maturity requires data becoming a foundation of organizational strategy. So how do you mature in this area? Here are six ways to start.
Implementing Governance: Building and maintaining a data governance model, which is shared across the organization, is an important aspect of data maturity. The governance policy should have ownership on the business-side. New hires, specifically those in management roles, must also be updated on the policy and held accountable for improving data value.
Building and Documenting Architecture: Building data architecture is one step, but it isn’t necessarily the first. You must also document your architecture. This is an often-overlooked area; however, it is important. You wouldn’t want to build a house without blueprints. Then you’d end up with a toilet in the living room. That’s an extreme example, but you get it. Blueprints help you understand where everything is, and how everything fits together. Diagramming and blueprinting help you visualize how data flows through the organization, where it’s going, and who has access. Is this data getting to the person who needs it? Also, is data being needlessly duplicated? De-duplication is another major problem that digital mature organizations try and smooth out like eye wrinkles.
Clean Your Data: Data quality is an important metric for everyone. Want proof? Let’s go to the stat board. IBM says poor quality data costs the U.S economy $3.1 trillion per year. Um, yeah, that’s a rather large amount of waste. You can have all the data you want, but if it isn’t good data or clean data or current data then it’s, at best useless, and at worst harmful. Imagine spending time, effort, and money sending out direct mailers only to find your database is filled with wrong addresses. How about making an important process improvement decision based on data only to discover that the data it was based on was bad data. This is not to mention the amount of time people waste hunting for data, correcting data, or confirming data accuracy. This stuff happens, rather frequently as the $3.1 trillion price tag indicates. Organizations should make strategic goals to improve data cleanliness and hold people accountable to these goals.
Volume Optimization: People love to have “big data,” got to have some “big data.” Big data however, doesn’t come with a warning label: “Too much big data can be harmful to your health.” Data obesity is a problem. We’ve got to much data. We’re swimming in it. So now, instead of data helping to make faster and smarter decisions, it’s only made decision-making slower and more confusing. Mature organizations don’t just gobble up any data they can; they instead collect what they can handle, data that will allow them to make more meaningful decisions and improve. They are focused in this area.
Finding the HUMALOGY® Balance: Data improvement efforts shouldn’t be solely absorbed with the technology tools that can help aggregate, clean, and visualize data. Just as important are the people who will use these tools and the data it provides to improve the organization. Data is nothing without wisdom. Wisdom comes from the human experience. This is what we call HUMALOGY®, that critical junction between technology and human effort. Making it a priority to invest in the business intelligence and analytic skills of your team is just as important as investing in data intelligence tools. Just remember, a hammer is only as strong as the human swinging it.
Visibility: Data is merely the paint and paintbrush. It takes a skilled painter and a canvas to make a work of art. This is where data visualization tools come in. They help the data come alive. Data should tell a story. It comfortably rests at the nexus between rationality and creativity. That’s why those who are great with data are so rare, so sought after, and so well compensated. Investing in the tools and personnel to make data visualization play a more prominent role in the organization will not go unrewarded. Constantly sharpening the skills to turn data into wisdom will help leaders make decisions that have a positive impact on the health of the organization. This is exactly what our Data Intelligence Strategy Course is meant to accomplish: to develop every leader into a data-driven leader.
Data maturity is one of nine dimensions that we use to assess organizations on their overall digital maturity. It’s one important area that ultimately plays a role in how organizations can compete in a marketplace every day more dominated by technological innovation, process efficiency, and constituent experience. By developing in each of the nine dimensions of digital maturity, an organization can develop advantage while thriving in today’s transformative landscape.