Being Data Led

There is no doubt that data is the big thing at the moment (and lets face it, has been for some time).

The sheer volume of articles / blogs etc on the subjects of Data Quality, Data Governance, Data Analytics, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence etc is somewhat overwhelming.

And if you are a business leader, worried that your going to fall behind because you are not a “data led” organisation you may well be wondering where to start, how much is it all going to cost, how do I know I’ll get a decent ROI, what exactly is Artificial Intelligence and what exactly does a Data Scientist do?

Well take a breath.

If you are a big name like Amazon, Google, Facebook then sure – splash the cash. Build a team of Analysts, Scientists and given them the expensive tools they ask for.

If on the other hand you are a successful SME making widgets but need to be cautious re expenditure….

The first things you need to consider are what business issues are you wrestling with and what aspects of your data are impacting those issues. You do not need a data scientist to figure out that late payments are exacerbated by not being able to chase customers because you do not have accurate contact details. It’s common sense. I am a big fan of common sense. You just need to see it.

And don’t think you need to purchase and implement the latest data tool from the big suppliers. Have a look at what you can do with the tools and skills you already have in your business. Excel and SQL can be used very effectively to identify and fix data issues – you just need a bit of creativity, focus and the will to make it happen. There is always a way. And don’t forget some of the free stuff that you can get hold of to help you assess and report on your data.

I am not suggesting that there is no place for having top-of-the-range tools in the hands of Data Analysts / Scientists. But address the basics first before letting the data bandwagon run away with you. Remember, if you do decide that there is a place in your organisation for a genuine Data Scientist who can help you to run your business more effectively and give you the edge over your competitors, they will need access to quality data to work with. So early efforts at resolving data issues will not be wasted and if targeted correctly will bring about tangible benefits to your business.

I don’t know (and I don’t think many people do) what the ROI is on data science platforms but it’s my guess that it is not massive. Amazon got big by being good at selling stuff on-line before they figured out that they could use the data to start targeting us with suggestions for what we would like to buy that we had not thought of for ourselves (how many people actually take up an Amazon suggestion?). And I’m sure the algorithms that do this are immensely clever (far beyond my comprehension). But before you get really clever you need to get the basics right.

To hi-jack the old Pareto principle, 80% of benefits can be achieved by tackling 20% of the issues.

Being Data Led may be the right thing for your business. But there is likely a journey to embark on to get there. If you take a sensible route then you will reap benefits as you progress. You don’t have to wait until you reach your final destination and you may find that the journey is not as long (or as expensive) as you might think.

Data Quality, Master Data Management, Data Governance, Compliance, Data Access and Storage, Security, Management Information, Business Intelligence are all part of the journey to having data that supports your business. And that’s the point – the data has to support your business. It is a means to an end, not the end itself.

If you need help in “seeing the wood for the trees” then please get in touch.

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