Executives must take a strategic approach to the role of data in their organisation if they are to resist competitive pressures from new data-driven entrants and existing players.
Although digital initiatives are high on the agenda, data sits at the heart of these projects, and data expertise must become a core capability for organisations wishing to maintain market leadership.
This process begins with looking at the core value chain, understanding how data relates to each element, what internal and external data sources are available, and how this can be used to enable change.
Whether the objectives for the business are centred on customer experience, operational improvement, or product and service innovation, acquiring, managing, and applying data is critical to success.
Existing approaches to data management are often well entrenched, but the new opportunities created by analytics and big data require more lateral thinking on how business processes can be improved, and new value propositions created.
Organisations should be explicit in seeking to data-equip all of their processes, or at the very least those that contribute to the core value of the business.
This requires detailed exploration: examining the data sources and information flows associated with key business processes and considering how that information can generate new insights.
Often there is data available that is not currently collected at all, is not analysed, or is not analysed sufficiently quickly to do anything other than post-hoc analysis. Putting this right can lead to genuine innovation in performance and in business outcomes.
It also requires a strong focus on data management capabilities, so that the route from data to actionable insight is guided by a well-defined and repeatable methodology.
Although technology can support this objective, it is a data-driven culture and high-quality processes for data management that differentiate the top performers.
Data management should no longer be perceived as a separate entity, but as a foundational part of every IT solution and project, with awareness and skills required at all levels of the organisation.
By Tim Jennings - Research Analyst, Ovum