Data Strategy in 2021 – Where to Begin? Guide

Data Strategy in 2021 – Where to Begin? Guide

With the huge, and growing, amount of data we, as businesses and as individuals, have access to, understanding how to build a data strategy has never been more important. The IDC predicts that the amount of data in the world will grow from 33 zettabytes in 2019 to 175ZB by 2025.

To maximise the return on collecting all this data, from customers, about products, and organisational data, companies need to create a data strategy.

A definition of data strategy is provided by PwC:

“The basic goal of data strategy is to create and maintain an enterprise-wide strategy that ensures the adequate protection, quality, value and utilization of corporate data assets…”

But where should you begin? This guide is intended to help introduce some basic concepts that will be useful for business leaders to begin to understand the value and process of a data strategy. Keep an eye out for an upcoming eBook on the technical checklist you need when developing a data strategy.

Whether you are looking to develop a data strategy from scratch, or improve your existing one, we have developed this introductory guide to help you know how to drive success in your organisation and begin thinking about a data strategy in your organisation.

Here we will focus on:

  • Showing why a data strategy is vital to every organisation
  • Providing actionable tips on developing a data strategy
  • Gaining buy-in from business users

For more in-depth information and practical tips on implementing a data strategy, talk to our data experts.


Why you need a data strategy in the first place

As stated earlier, there’s an exponentially-growing amount of data you can draw on for your business, from customer information, product and sales data, and manufacturing process information. Most data your organisation collects, can be leveraged to improve the performance of your organisation, whether through increased sales or improved operational efficiency.

However, recent studies have found that 83 percent of business leaders are struggling to maximise their data processes. Essentially, they are running “data blind”. This means few organisations are actually deriving the full value out of their data.

There are two main reasons: poorly-implemented strategy or a complete absence of strategy.

A fully-developed data strategy improves your ability to:

  • Make data-driven business decisions
  • Develop a 360-degree view of your customers
  • Deliver smarter products and services in an efficient way
  • Improve manufacturing and delivery operations
  • Stay compliant with data protection regulations

If you can piece together the disparate parts of your source data, you can gain a competitive advantage regardless of the size of your business.

This is an important point. We want to make it clear that it is not just the big players who are benefiting from data strategies but also small-to-medium-sized businesses who are realising the value of using data more strategically.

While data may be considered the new oil, it is only valuable if it converted to a usable format with a specified use. The data strategy ensures that the data has a known purpose and works well, and this works regardless of the size of the organisations.

Data has a key role to play in the success, or otherwise, of your business. Having a strategy to ensure you gain maximum value from data is essential. Set aside time to learn how to build a data strategy and start putting it into practice.


How to get started with building your data strategy

The objective of the data strategy should draw on two vital resources:

  1. Your business strategy.
  2. Your people

Leveraging and Supporting your Business Strategy

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. To start, focus on three things:

  • Align across the business from the start
  • Define a desired state, then identify issues
  • Remain (or become) agile

Relating data to your business strategy provides much needed focus and goes a long way to curing data overwhelm. We go in to leveraging and supporting the business strategy with a data strategy in more detail in this article.

Drawing on your People

Every person in your organisation will likely have an idea of how data could help in their day-to-day roles. Perhaps there is a specific data set that would help a content writer to better understand their audience, or a customer insight that would help a sales agent accelerate the route to sale.

Virtually every person in the organisation uses data or could be using data. If you haven’t already, it’s time to generate discussions with people in your team.

Open up your business plan, talk to your people and work out how data can help grow your business and improve operational efficiency across the whole organisation. What problems are you trying to solve with your data?

How to gain buy-in and develop internal support for your data strategy

We have mentioned before about how a data strategy needs buy-in from the whole organisation. But how do you achieve that in your organisation?

  1. Readability: present data for business users

Data access is one thing. Understanding what it means is another thing entirely and this is, in our experience at Data Clarity, one of the main issues organisations experience when implementing a data strategy. So, ensuring that your data strategy makes data both accessible and understandable to both technical and business users is of prime importance.

There are many ways of communicating data, such as data visualisations, infographics and dashboards. But visualisation isn’t everything: it also needs to tell a story. Any visualisation should clearly convey what the data means and why it is important.

Omni-channel and master data management platforms can help organisations get on top of their data and improve readability for business users. At Data Clarity, we have developed ClarityOmnivue to do just this. Find out more about our award-winning solution here.

  1. Trackability: track data that monitors specific and useful business performance

As a business leader, you need to be able to track business performance over time across key metrics. These metrics may include areas like sales revenues and customer retention rates.

Identifying the most important business performance metrics is vitally important. It ensures you are focused on what matters most and not getting lost in the minutiae of metrics. It helps you track your overall business performance and where you stand in meeting key business targets.

If you are failing to meet your business performance goals, then it’s time to investigate the reasons why.

  1. Actionability: access and read data to understand where to take action

Your team should have access to data insight that is not only intelligible but also actionable. In other words, it must highlight a specific problem (or opportunity) that needs addressing.

Any data management process needs to be specific and pinpoints a clear area that needs to be addressed urgently by business users in order to become fully effective and to gain real value from your data.

Put the processes in place to ensure that data insights can be shared across the business. To get started, identify insights you currently have access to that other people in the organisation could benefit from.


Conclusion: Where to begin and next steps

While there are many different elements to a data strategy, it must begin with identifying and understanding the key problems and areas of concern you need to resolve to begin getting value from your data. This guide should help introduce you to the ideas behind a data strategy and where to begin – however if you want more information, you can discover our services and how they help you when implementing a full end-to-end strategy.

It’s not about gathering as much data as possible, it’s about gathering the data which provides the most value and developing a company-wide culture to become data driven. A data audit can reveal these key starting points for your organisation. To find out what your data can do for your organisation, contact our data experts today.

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