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  • Writer's pictureOliver Nowak

Why your Data Strategy Matters more than Ever

In the fast-paced digital world that we have now lived in for the last few decades, data isn't something new, and having a data strategy isn't a new concept either. But what most organisations are starting to realise is that data isn't just a train of breadcrumbs we leave in our wake. It's the greatest source of wealth of our time. In fact, I would go so far as to say that data, and data alone, will fundamentally determine the future of every business in every sector that exists today.

So if that's true, why isn't it every business' highest priority?

At it's core I think it's down to a lack of understanding around what a data strategy needs to include and why each element is so important.

Starting simple, what is the definition of a data strategy?

In it's simplest form, it's a comprehensive plan that outlines how your organisation collects, manages, utilitses and secures digital information to achieve it's objectives.

In my opinion, this covers 5 essential elements. They are:

Data Identification: Where is all of your data coming from?

Data Storage: Where is it kept? Is it easily accessible by the right people and impossible to access by the wrong people?

Data Provisioning: Is it available to the right people, at the right time, & in the right place?

Data Integration: Can you create one unified digital picture influenced by multiple sources?

Data Governance: Do you have a set of rules to ensure minimum standards around quality, risk & security are consistently maintained?

Never Stand Still

If you are in a lucky enough position to be able to answer the questions above with confidence, that doesn't mean you should sit back and relax. Your data strategy will likely be the fastest evolving strategy within the entire organisation and you need to make sure you're remaining alert if you want to have any chance of keeping it aligned to your business objectives.

Culture & Literacy

The hardest, and therefore most overlooked part of any strategy is the cultural component. If your data strategy is to stand any chance of being successful you need to make sure you're investing serious energy into fostering a data-centric culture. This involves nurturing data literacy amongst your employees, and recalibrating their mindset away from 'data is an IT problem'. Optimal data-centric cultures not only democratise data access but ensure data-driven decision-making is integrated at all levels within the organisation.

AI & IoT

Yes, I know it's amazing that I got this far into an article about data without mentioning 'AI'. Your artificial intelligence will only be as intelligent as the data that you feed it. Rubbish in, rubbish out. All AI technologies do is learn from the data you feed it, identify patterns, & make predictions based on these patterns. An effective data strategy ensures you are feeding your AI models relevant, accurate & diverse data, leading to much more accurate and reliable results.

Then, unlike AI which feeds on data, IoT is you big data generator. As the IoT landscape continues to expand from smart watches to smart washing machines, every organisation is increasingly going to be inundated by data. An effective data strategy ensures you are taking the volume, velocity, and variety of the data at your disposal to convert this raw data into something you can actually use.

To close out, going back to the beginning of the article, data is no longer just a byproduct of your business activity but your most valuable business asset. But it will only become that if you invest early and invest wisely. Good luck!

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