Data has the power to be a catalyst for connecting different teams around common goals. Aligning diverse teams with a common understanding of customer insights and business goals should be the goal of every CIO – developing a strong strategy is at the core of this.
A great data strategy works in a supporting role to the overarching business strategy and ultimately uncover and deepen customer insights to enable all business users to get to know your real customers and pull in the same direction.
The outcome of these efforts has multiple benefits as improved data quality means, for example, richer customer insights (better customer engagement and retention), clear priorities (better ROI for activities across the business), and a clear picture of cause and effect across all departments. For more on data quality strategy, read our article here.
What happens when you don’t align data strategy to support business strategy?
It is helpful to think of your data strategy as the foundation of your organisation. If the foundation is poor quality or damaged (or even non-existent), everything built on top of it will be compromised. In an organisation, a poor strategy can result in:
- Misguided decision-making across all business units
- Lack of accurate forecasting
- Ineffective marketing efforts
- Poor customer retention
- Missed revenue goals
- Unnecessary costs accrued company-wide
Without a true data strategy, it may not be possible to produce accurate insights or it may be time-consuming and costly to access the data needed by business users. Redundant applications drive up costs, as do individuals accessing and storing duplicate data.
Most importantly, without a unified system for producing business-aligned insights, it may be impossible to develop one accurate view of customers and revenue. CIOs will need to consider data access and data quality strategies to reduce costs and increase efficiencies across the organisation.
Another option is adopting a system to manage and unify your data across multiple source systems. Usually this will take the form of a Master Data Management system. Data Clarity has developed ClarityOmnivue with this in mind, making unifying data simple, with the added benefits of insight dashboards and a full analytics suite built in.
Step One: Align across the business from the start
Regardless of how you decide to resolve your current data challenges, achieving alignment means working closely with business leaders across departments to gain an understanding of the top challenges currently faced by the company.
A good data strategy will first and foremost help to solve those challenges through a system of technology infrastructure and a set of clearly defined processes.
Starting with this level of clarity will help create a focused strategy, ensuring that you are only leveraging the data the company needs. If business outcomes are not kept in mind from the start, it can be easy to boil the ocean and end up in a messy situation.
An additional effect of this level of alignment will be building strong working relationships with company leadership. Developing a new data strategy is not an overnight (or cost-free) process and their buy-in and support will be necessary throughout the journey.
Step Two: Define your desired state, then identify issues
Many companies today approach data in a disjointed and reactionary way. It is often stored, accessed, and leveraged in different ways by different teams in the company, inevitably creating inconsistent and inaccurate insights. In this situation, data can not live up to its’ true potential and is most responsible for the perception that IT is costly and ineffective across departments.
The purpose of data within a company should be to support, and ultimately drive, business goals forward. This can only be achieved by developing a strategy for collecting, organising, and leveraging data that supports the goals of the company, rather than the individual goals of each team – which may end up conflicting. A good data strategy does not, and should not, stand on its’ own.
With this in mind, it is important to iterate that the only way to achieve the desired outcomes for the company is by working with fellow business leaders to understand the company’s short and long-term goals.
What is the desired state of the business in 6 months? One year? Five years? How can data help achieve those goals?
The key is to think beyond what data is currently doing for the company and aspire to embrace what data can potentially do for the company to reach your company’s business goals more readily. This, in turn, will define the desired data state.
Once the desired state is clear, you will need to begin analysing the current data ecosystem, within the context of the newly defined business goals. In this analysis, identify all the current sources of data, how they are being stored and accessed, and how data insights are being developed and used across the business.
The objective of this exercise is to identify the gaps in the current data strategy, as it relates to the desired state. This will help inform the changes that need to be made while developing the new data strategy in terms of both technology and process.
The new data strategy should have the power and breadth of insights to help drive business goals forward.
Step Three: Remain agile
We live in an increasingly dynamic world. As such, it is important to be nimble and opportunistic, iterating on the data strategy as more is revealed about customer preference and/or the needs of the business change.
There is no compromise for quality data, mined for insights, aligned to support business goals, and thoughtfully leveraged with specific objectives in mind. Data has the power to help answer questions, resolve uncertainties, and ultimately drive business strategy and goals confidently forward.
It is ultimately the responsibility of the CIO, in collaboration with the rest of the company, to develop a data strategy that aligns with and complements the overarching goals of the company, ultimately unlocking the transformative power of data.
To learn more about how Data Clarity can help you get the most out of your data to support your enterprise’s business strategy, contact us today to discuss your needs with our experts.