Next Generation of Business
By Jason Ballard
Aside from people, what is the most important resource in your company? It is something most people don’t think about on a regular basis, aren’t tracking, don’t really understand, and traditionally don’t view as an asset. However, in the age of the Internet of Things, everything being connected, and increasing consumer demand for personalized digital experiences, it has become a crucial component in life that we all depend on. I submit to you that DATA is the number one commodity that will drive future success in business. Whether you are on Wall Street or own a small cupcake shop in mid-America, how well you leverage the power of data will determine how well you will succeed in the highly competitive global economy.
Let’s assess where your business may be with some simple questions:
- How much do you know about your data?
- What types of data do you possess or have access to?
- How much data do you own … can you quantify it?
- Do you have a data management plan to make the best use of it?
- How do you know whether you are getting the best use out of the data?
- How much is your data worth? Is it insured?
- What measures are you taking to protect your valuable data?
- What is the quality or accuracy of your data?
- What is your process of converting data to decision quality information?
Don’t have good answers to these questions? You are not alone. It’s reported that over 85 percent of organizations in the world do not have a comprehensive data strategy to address these important concerns. What’s even more surprising is the impact it has. As reported by Forbes in October of 2018, “Data adds huge value to companies and national economies. It’s at the heart of modern business success and development. But organizations are leaving billions of dollars of value on the table based on a report published by Development Economic. The research reviewed the value that data brings to economies across the G7 and Europe. Over 4 percent of all jobs in the U.S., along with over 5 percent of national output, come from the contribution that data makes to the economy and the numbers are growing exponentially each year.” What is interesting is this is not just about the industries traditionally associated with data (finance and technology). In fact, data’s value and the missed opportunities stretch across the whole economy, including activities as varied as the use of meteorological data to optimize crop planting and the use of 3D visualization to tie together workers on a construction site with designers in a distant office. Regardless of the sector, those who actively pursue data usage and data monetization are thriving. According to McKinsey, "Compared with their peers, high-performing respondents report that data-and-analytics activities are prompting more significant changes in their core business functions than anything else."
Knowing this information, what do you do to better understand your data and how to leverage it to maximize its value? Here are 5 steps you can take to gain control of your data and achieve better results:
- Start with getting answers to the above questions and make technology and data a priority. Transition from the legacy mindset of this being “support” functions and treat them as resources to drive big opportunities. Technology and the data it produces should be “operationalized” throughout all areas of the business.
- Appoint someone to oversee all data-centric operations such as a Chief Data Officer. Someone who understands the various aspects of data, but more importantly, how to leverage it as a competitive advantage.
- Develop an organization-wide data strategy. Points to consider:
- Connect it to the organization’s overall vision, mission, goals, and plans.
- Internal use of data. Each department owns, processes, and/or uses data. Unify that to where data can be aggregated and serve both strategic and tactical purposes of the organization. It can then be used to monitor the performance of operations, create efficiencies, and enhance collaboration, etc. Once that is established, use data for decision making. Business is a very competitive sport. Organizations that collect and process data and act the fastest will win.
- External use of data. Identify the data types that can add value to the consumer. Today, customers want 24/7 access, the ability to conduct business quickly, and expect a personalized experience that exceeds their expectations and makes them feel good because of the perceived value. That is achieved by implementing systems/processes that capture the behaviors and needs of each customer. Learning how they buy, what they buy, and when they buy is critical. The more adaptable you can evolve your products and services around individual customers, the more you will win.
- A key component of a data strategy is security, which consists of: availability, reliability, and confidentiality. If you cannot protect it and ensure its authenticity, no one will trust it and it will become useless.
- Create a data agnostic ecosystem. Organizations have data stored on various business systems, servers, computers, SharePoint platforms, websites, cloud-based resources (like Dropbox), email systems, etc. It’s all over the place. Create a system that accesses/pulls the data from the myriad of sources and stores it in a repository like a data warehouse, data lake, etc.
- Turn data into valuable information. Once data is in some type of repository, you can combine datasets, perform analytics, identify trends, and gain a broader perspective of the entire organization. Instead of receiving “siloed” information from various departments, you can see the everything at one time, create dashboards, make informed quality decisions, and provide invaluable business intelligence to consumers that will propel them to higher levels of achievement.
When I served as the CIO for the City of Louisville, we were able to harness the power of data in several ways. In one area, we identified key performance indicators in how the city executed against its strategic plan and primary services provided to citizens. By using data, we were able to save taxpayers millions of dollars in money spent on overtime, sick leave, hours not worked, and employee turnover. We were also able to track the Mayors goals and show constituents the progress being made on a periodic basis. In addition, the City of Louisville became the top city in America for transparency. We captured the core elements of the city and made the data available on a public website, which enabled the trust and confidence of the people we served.
When I was an executive in the commercial sector, we were able to use systems, processes, and data to provide consumers with actionable intelligence to better protect their organizations from cyber threats, espionage, and other vulnerabilities. How much did it cost Target to recover from their data breach … $200M. That does not include the opportunity costs in the drop from sales after the event occurred, lack of consumer confidence, and damage to its reputation. In other instances, we were able to capture customer care breakdowns in the healthcare space where that resulted in the streamlining of programs and shorter wait times for patients. The future of business will be dependent on how well you can deliver a personalized product and/or service to someone. That allows your organization to better connect with people, add value to them, make them feel good, and make their lives easier. When you can accomplish that, you will have customers for life.
To be successful in today’s world, you need to be a digital-based organization. Whether you are in the government, non-for-profit, corporate, small business, or entrepreneurial sector, it is all about the data. With it, you can run an organization more effectively, better understand your customer base and serve their needs, and predict future outcomes. That will save precious time and money, allow you to be a market leader, and position your organization to reach its full potential. So, where is your organization as it relates to technology and data? Are you treating it as a priority asset? You should.
Contact me for a free consultation in how I can help your organization achieve more.
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