What makes for a good data strategy?
A good data strategy should be business-driven, not technology-driven. The strategy must support the goals you have for your business. It should be aligned to outcomes and deliver what the business needs. It accounts for the particular situation of your business, allowing you to know what to do and by when, and it also allows you to anticipate what disruptions may be attractive and by when.
Data strategy is a strategy for your business. You should have a cross-section of people across the organization on board - engineer, architects, business stakeholders and anyone who owns the business problems and use the data to make decisions.
Data strategy also works within what is possible and practical. It should be actionable. It should be clear to you how you are going to execute it.
It is not just a strategy; it must also be a plan. You need to have a plan for how data will help you solve business problems. You need to have a plan for how data will help achieve the solution, in a way that makes an action plan very clear, easy to follow, and easy to communicate throughout your business.
Data strategy should be about how you do things with your data that make you more competitive, that make your business more successful, that allow you to grow, and that allow you to enter new markets and take on new challenges. It should be about creating value for your business.
Technology changes extremely fast, so the data strategy needs to be malleable. It should be a living document that continues to be revisited and reimagined periodically. It should help prioritize your investments for business value, but in the context of a changing business and technology landscape.
How to create the data strategy?
When we work with clients to develop a data strategy, we bring together the critical stakeholders from across the business to list and discuss trade-offs in technology investments, based on what each investment may enable the business to do. By using a highly participatory, inclusive process for surfacing and discussing such information, we ensure that the resulting strategy is well understood by the people who will be expected to implement it, own it, champion it, and benefit from it. It becomes a living, breathing plan of action that is embraced by the organization, because the critical stakeholders participated in its drafting.
Initially, we do an analysis of the imperatives and objectives that matter to the company today, and put together an analysis of your business and your technology and the connections between them. Then we talk about what is possible, and things the business should do to move forward. The intent is to provide a 12–18 month roadmap; the further we get from the point in time when we did the analysis, the hazier things get because of changes in the technology landscape and competitive environment.
When creating or assessing a data strategy, we always consider the possibilities of new technology together with an understanding of what data assets exist inside a company and outside a company, and add an understanding of what the business needs to achieve—including any changes in business priorities—to determine how we can get there with significant portions of the value early. Strategies that will only deliver value after prolonged, expensive investments are both extremely risky and unlikely to produce optimal results.
It is its ability to understand the world that makes a business succeed. A business is a machine for understanding and reacting to the world around it, and taking advantage of it in the market—and the world is increasingly represented as data. Creating a sound data strategy is the key to building an increasingly sophisticated and actionable understanding of that world. We can help you do that.