Your Business In 5 Years

By Andy Jackson

Several years ago, Helen (Hels) Tanner came to the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator and gave a presentation on the value of data.  I’m always fascinated by how passionate entrepreneurs are about their ‘thing’ and how this translates into a viable product business, and this was no exception.  She talked about how data was a core part of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and how the world will eventually recognise this newly developing bandwagon and want to jump on.   

This must have been 5 or 6 years ago because DATA3 was in its infancy and Hels was just starting to form her first team of data evangelists. 

Much of her presentation has been lost to the mists of my memory, but three things have stuck with me: 

  1. Every business on the planet produces an extraordinary amount of data (even if they don’t realise it). 
  2. There’s significant tangible value in that data … to inform decision making and also revenue generating, although most organisations think that this opportunity (RevGen) isn’t worth the effort or wouldn’t know where to start!  
  3. Very few businesses have a (data) strategy that will result in them being able to access their data effectively in the future. 

Most people will recognise 1 and 2 but number 3 … 

At the time, I remember thinking about organisational strategy and the fact that most businesses will (should) have strategies for sales, marketing, product, financial and people … but not Data.  It just didn’t figure in the way most people think about business development. 

And now, 5 years or so further on than my initial musings, having a data strategy is still not part of the core lexicon for organisational growth. 

Should it be though? 

“ALL established businesses use multiple software apps and platforms to run their business – financial, marketing, sales, people/HR, a CRM etc. The problem, is that most businesses end up with a whole bunch of data sources that often have the same sort of information (think customer data) but these data sources are disconnected and don’t talk to each other resulting in inaccurate and/or conflicting data.” 

Bearing the above in mind, how well will any of the standard organisational strategies cope, if the data that underpins them is coming from disconnected sources and is potentially inaccurate and conflicting?  And how will you know if it is inaccurate and conflicting? 

I think I’ll leave the whole concept of Data Quality for another time as it’s part of a bigger conversation re Data Maturity.  For now, the question of an organisational strategy for Data still needs addressing. 

Why don’t businesses have a data strategy? 

For many people and businesses, it doesn’t make the priority list. It’s just not important enough. For startup and micro businesses, I can see why the concept of data plays second fiddle to sales/business development activities (amongst a whole load of other stuff).  Resources are limited and time is finite, so allocating both of these things to managing data is going to be viewed as less important than securing the next client.  But larger organisations have started to recognise that Data is a valuable resource that can be used to gain insights and make informed decisions. 

With the rise of big data, businesses and organisations can analyse vast amounts of information to identify patterns, trends, and relationships that can inform their strategies and operations. This can lead to more efficient processes, better customer experiences, and improved outcomes. Additionally, data can be used to measure performance, track progress, and identify areas for improvement.  

The most compelling reasons for considering a data strategy are rooted in the fact that according to the IDC white paper, “companies that have adopted mature data practices achieve 2.5x better business outcomes across the board. Significant increases were seen for revenues and profits, efficiency, higher NPS scores and lifetime customer value.” 

What needs to be considered for a data strategy? 

Like all strategies, developing a data strategy requires planning and consideration. Here are some key factors to keep in mind: 

  1. Clarify your business objectives: Your data strategy should align with your organisation’s overall business objectives. Identify the key areas where data can help you achieve your goals and prioritise them accordingly. 
  1. Establish a robust data architecture: Your data architecture should support your business objectives and enable you to store, manage, and analyse data effectively. This includes selecting appropriate data storage technologies, designing data models, and establishing data integration processes. 
  1. Determine the type of data analytics that will be most useful for your organisation and develop a plan for implementing them. This includes identifying the data sources that will be used for analysis, selecting appropriate analytics tools, and developing data visualisation techniques. 
  1. Then there’s data governance: Establish clear policies and procedures for managing data across your organisation. This includes defining data ownership, ensuring data quality, and establishing guidelines for data access and use. 
  1. Data security: Ensure that your data is secure and protected from unauthorised access or use. This includes implementing appropriate security measures such as encryption, access controls, and monitoring. 
  1. Establish policies and procedures to ensure data privacy. This includes complying with relevant data protection regulations and ensuring that individuals are aware of how their data is being used. 
  1. Foster a data culture that supports data-driven decision-making within your organisation. This includes the provision of training and support for employees to develop data literacy skills, encouraging collaboration across teams, and promoting a data-driven mindset. 

These are just a few of the key considerations when developing a data strategy. It’s important to approach this process with a clear understanding of your organisation’s goals and objectives, and to seek input from stakeholders across the organisation to ensure that your strategy is aligned with their needs and priorities. 

If you’re intrigued to know more about how a data strategy could help and support your organisation’s growth and development, we’d be happy to have a more focused conversation. 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

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