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book

Accelerating Your Business Strategy With Data

Author Chris Chuwa

There has been little or no improvements in data strategy use since Robert Waterman noted that most companies were ‘data-rich but information poor’ over 35 years ago. Certainly, most companies have way more data at their disposal now than they did 3 decades ago however, they still suffer from a lack of information even though many leading companies undergo several programs to make the most use of their data. More than a few companies still find it hard to incorporate data into their business strategy thus also fail to incorporate their data efforts into their business needs for reasons ranging from culture to unreasonable expectations.

It is imperative to work towards solving such issues if a business wants to make the most use of the powers of data in different parts of the company. It is not entirely shocking that data has yet to take its place in the strategies of a lot of organizations. Running a business is quite complex as there are many other aspects to worry about such as keeping up with competitors, satisfying your customers, plus regulatory environments to exist in and so much more. A lot of useful ideas like the introduction of new technology, carbon neutrality, social responsibility data, and more are also competing for attention and resources with core business operations. A lot of businesses who have benefited from data can attest to the fact that it adds major value to your business but it is often difficult to say exactly where it fits in.

The way that an organization regards its data asset is evident in its roadmap. A lot of people struggle with basic statistics and managers do not fully trust it even though they use it every day. Human beings like to rely on their ability to make good decisions and doubt that they need AI or stronger analytics tools to help them. The thought of having central oversight on a company’s data is often met with hesitation yet they are shocked when risks arise from data-related issues. Most companies know the importance of security and privacy but accountabilities are hardly every explicitly stated. These businesses know that if they become a data-driven company, they will certainly have to adapt their culture which can take up a lot of time, and in addition, it is not exactly easy. All of these concerns contribute to the hesitation organizations have to incorporate data into their activities.

Dealing with business data is rather complex as there are always demands and opportunities. Everything from monetization, data quality, privacy and security, small data, artificial intelligence, and more need to be monitored or updated frequently, things like defining metadata, implementing business intelligence systems, aligning systems, or adding new fields to databases also need to be considered. Even when there are departments dedicated to data, they sometimes struggle with getting other arms of the businesses on board with their activities and including them in the business strategy. In other cases, the business’s data experts may not have enough skill or connections required for data controls they need to push forward an idea. This results in low level, poorly connected, short term data activities related to business strategy. In cases where data is properly integrated, it has the ability to accelerate most of the organization’s strategy by empowering the people in charge of and bettering the business processes. For example, a medical centers management decided that they had to begin to use their data as a part of their core systems however, their data program did not meet the center’s leadership expectations. To learn why this happened, the Chief Data Officer linked each of their data initiatives to possible scenarios that could benefit in value from the use of data. The result showed that their data programs were simply a group of although important information, were not really related to any of their projects. They were hardly strategically inclined and so they could not meet the medical center’s requirements. As soon as the problem was identified, the center learned to combine its data initiatives into its business strategy and closely manage it. Shortly after, the center saw massive improvements including a reduction in fines and compliance costs. Physicians’ jobs were also a lot easier after providers’ data was made available across the clinic. Patient care also saw major improvements with routine examinations for ailments like colon cancer seeing an increase and operations margins all staying within its target.

The center was able to see through its complexities, find a common ground, and create priorities everyone agreed on by simplifying its problem using 6 data scenarios that organizations can use to get value from their data asset.

  • Better processes
  • Advanced competitive positioning
  • Better and newer products as a result of gathering better data on their customers and market
  • Integrating data into their services and products
  • Boosted human capabilities and
  • Improved risk management

When businesses and data leaders are able to understand these modes, they can then use them to align their strategies with their data. Value modes help create more disciplined thinking, narrower focus and encourage accurate conversations. We know that value modes can be particularly helpful for businesses seeking to answer the question of how data can help their business. These value modes enable communication between data experts and business leaders. When both parties understand them, data experts can demonstrate potential gains for the business as well as limitations from their data options so the leaders get a clearer picture of the value each option brings to the organization. They can now work together on identifying the best areas for data to result in the most returns, they can also filter the hype and noise that can interrupt proper planning. Many people today can get sidetracked by the brilliance of artificial intelligence which can make them rush into adopting new technology without giving much thought into the benefits and risks they might face. Before committing, business leaders should use value modes to guide their decision after examining the risks and benefits that come with it.

The two major enemies of strategy are abstraction and complexity therefore it is important to align your data efforts with strategy. Although it can seem challenging, with these 6 value modes, business leaders can make use of powerful data concepts. It will take hard work however the results the organization will get are absolutely worth it.