Uncover what “data-driven” really means for your business

Image: iuriimotov/Stock Image

“Data-driven” is a commonly used term these days. Everyone says it, but do they really know what it means or how to develop data-driven operations in their organizations? There are many steps to becoming data-driven, making decisions based on data rather than intuition; The early building blocks of data discovery and strategy are essential to becoming a truly data-driven business.

SEE: Data Governance Checklist for Your Business (TechRepublic Premium)

Once you have an initial understanding of your data and what you can do as a data-driven company, your organization’s workflows, processes and goals can be optimized to deliver better results and greater business value. In this guide, you’ll learn what it means to be data-driven and look at some tips for creating and sustaining an effective data-driven business strategy.

Jump to:

Start your journey to data-driven operations

Just because you have data analysis tools and use data to make decisions doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a data-driven company. Truly data-driven organizations treat their data the way they should treat people: by creating a safe environment in which to thrive.

SEE: The Data-Driven Decision Pack (TechRepublic Academy)

The first step to becoming data-driven and creating an ideal data environment is to understand exactly what data you have, where it’s stored, how it’s used, and how accurate it is. Once you’ve identified these critical factors, you can begin your data journey and set your specific goals, whether that’s improving the customer experience or launching new services.

Any business-to-business or business-to-consumer company can make better use of its data. However, the value varies from industry to industry. Retailers, for example, can extract a lot of behavioral data about purchases and make relevant recommendations. For a law firm or advertising agency, it can be a little more difficult to identify and optimize valuable data assets.

Leveraging Your Data: Revenue vs. Operational Efficiency

Broadly speaking, data-driven companies fall into two categories: those that use data to increase sales and improve customer service, and those that use data to improve operations and processes.

Determining how your organization should use data to achieve business goals is an important first step in aligning your data strategy with real business value. Depending on the industry and target market, either a sales, an operational or a combined focus is most effective.

Leveraging data for better sales and customer experiences

To increase sales efficiency, a game developer might measure how long people play the game, the amount of time between games, or popular character choices. By using these datasets to understand user habits and behavior, developers can shape the design of the game, from in-game rewards to color schemes.

Starting from this new knowledge, the developer can move forward to use and monetize these insights. In B2C scenarios like this, consumers are often asked to provide feedback on their experience, creating additional data points that can drive development decisions.

WATCH: Best Gamification Software for Your Business (TechRepublic)

Leveraging data for operational efficiencies and process optimization

On the other hand, we have engineering companies that mainly use data-driven strategies to improve their current operations, processes and procedures. From monitoring robot performance to assessing equipment efficiency, these companies often leverage data generated by the Internet of Things to give them an increasingly granular view of the data.

Align your business and data strategies

For the many businesses trapped within a traditional operating framework, they must adapt to the changing expectations of the modern marketplace and put data at the center. All too often, data strategies aren’t driven by executive sponsorship and consequently aren’t backed with the processes, teams, and technology they need to succeed. An effective data strategy requires executive buy-in, which impacts all employees.

SEE: Best Business Intelligence Tools (TechRepublic)

For best results, a company’s data strategy should be designed to align with its business strategy. This alignment ensures that data is viewed not just as a priority, but as a critical step in achieving business goals, ensuring data teams are given the resources, funding, and attention they need to make data-driven decisions for the business.

5 ways to ensure the success of your new data strategy

Once you’ve secured internal resources and decided how best to leverage your data, it’s time to put your new data-driven strategies into practice. These are five lessons to keep in mind as you get started.

Don’t skip the data discovery phase

If you don’t understand your data, you can’t use it to make meaningful decisions. Before delving further into a data strategy, organizations need to go through the data discovery process, which involves understanding the locations, purposes, and metadata surrounding your data. A variety of top data governance software solutions support companies in the data discovery process.

Define the end result you want to achieve

Start your data-driven journey with an idea of ​​where you want to end up. I’ve worked with companies who came to us looking for guidance on data projects but had no idea why; it was just an exercise in ticking boxes. This approach is doomed to failure, while organizations with a clear vision of the endpoint are more likely to succeed.

If you don’t already have an in-house data team, it may be worth hiring data scientists and data architects who can define and execute on those goals.

Realize that tools won’t solve all your problems

In many other areas, e.g. In some areas, such as networking or security, it’s not uncommon to take an off-the-shelf tool and use it to solve a specific problem. The same is not true when it comes to data.

SEE: Setup Kit: Database Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

You can’t just plug in a data quality application and expect noticeable quality improvements if you don’t understand why you’re doing this and how it works. Again, it’s a good idea to hire data experts and trust them with the resources they need to allow these tools to do their jobs effectively.

Note the overhead for new data projects

Once you know what you want to achieve with your data strategy and how it will impact the business, you need to ensure the structure and resources are in place to support it before you begin. It’s not uncommon for data projects to be delayed for months while companies do the necessary groundwork they forgot.

Promote structural changes to avoid data silos

I’ve seen firsthand the importance of including the C-suite in data decisions, but communication about data strategy and projects shouldn’t stop there. It is just as important to ensure communication between all data participants so that no information silos are created. Organizations must overcome these internal barriers to make data projects successful.

Become truly data-driven

As data continues to be generated in large quantities and play an increasingly important role in our lives, now is the time to think about how to best leverage your existing data and generate new valuable data for your business and customers.

To be truly data-driven, companies must align their data and business strategies, and use the insights gained to set goals, drive and monitor their progress. This approach is sure to drive business faster and enable companies to offer better products and services that meet their customers’ desires.

Continue reading: Top Data Quality Tools (TechRepublic)

Michael Queenan is co-founder and CEO of the consulting-led data services integrator at Nephos Technologies.
Michael Queenan

Michael Queenan is co-founder and CEO of consulting-led data services integrator Nephos Technologies. A decade ago, Queenan and business partner Lee Biggenden identified a gap in the data market for a services-oriented integrator to guide the largest enterprises through the complexities of data strategy, governance and analytics. As CEO, Queenan plans the future strategy and direction of Nephos Technologies, identifying trends 24 to 36 months in advance and building centers of excellence to execute on those trends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *