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Data strategy “zooms out” several levels to include the users of – and uses for – information to support new, rapidly changing business processes and new opportunities for analysis

Data management is no longer just about the ability to store and process or create and delete data. It’s now about a holistic approach to managing all the information your business is collecting to improve business processes and discover new opportunities for analysis, then turning that into better decisions and companywide value.

Digital transformation (DX) is the hot topic in nearly every boardroom, but many executives are asking the question: “Where do we get quick wins that will kick-start our efforts and show the organization that DX can help them do their work?”

Numerous articles and presentations focus on the “how to” – creation of your digital strategy, but far fewer actually point you in the direction of implementation tactics, and even fewer, quick wins to support the transformation efforts.

Here are some ideas to gain quick wins in your digital transformation efforts.

CROSS-INDUSTRY STUDIES SHOW THAT ON AVERAGE, LESS THAN HALF OF AN ORGANIZATION’S STRUCTURED DATA IS ACTIVELY USED IN MAKING DECISIONS—AND LESS THAN 1% OF ITS UNSTRUCTURED DATA IS ANALYZED OR USED AT ALL. MORE THAN 70% OF EMPLOYEES HAVE ACCESS TO DATA THEY SHOULD NOT, AND 80% OF ANALYSTS’ TIME IS SPENT SIMPLY DISCOVERING AND PREPARING DATA. DATA BREACHES ARE COMMON, ROGUE DATA SETS PROPAGATE IN SILOS, AND COMPANIES’ DATA TECHNOLOGY OFTEN ISN’T UP TO THE DEMANDS PUT ON IT.
-Harvard Business Review, May-June 2017 Issue

Map One Success Metric to Actionable Data

Like the age-old question, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”, picking a single success metric achievable through a data-driven effort, makes getting underway much easier.

One common metric is eliminating data “silos” – data accessible to only a limited group of users or one function within the organization - which make access to data difficult from areas that do not utilize the application(s) directly producing or consuming the data. By increasing access, you can encourage innovative use of that data by other areas.

One of the highest impact efforts might be to survey the organization regarding their ability to gain a full perspective on your customer, and use that as the driver to determine the first data silo(s) to attack.

Establishing a simple front-end dashboard application for that specific data store, provides a way to support 360o access and encourage innovative use of that data by other areas. This also provides a great opportunity to gain valuable feedback from the organization in a proof-of-concept but live “hands-on” example. With that feedback, additional data stores can be easily added and a more feature-rich front-end established, either purchased based on the feature set defined through this effort, or built out more fully by the internal team. One of the highest impact efforts might be to survey the organization regarding their ability to gain a full perspective on your customer, and use that as the driver to determine the first data silo(s) to attack.

Identify A Specific Data Quality Issue

You can leverage the effort you invest in your first quick win to extend that to a data quality element. Let’s say you picked end-to-end customer view as your actionable data access goal. Along with that, you could determine, though user feedback, validity of the data they are now seeing. This creates a closed loop and that feedback allows you to monitor and manage the quality of the newly visible and available customer data.

It may be that a simple adjustment to one or more applications, each of which use different input selection lists, would improve quality immediately – for example one application might use the full state name “Massachusetts” while another might use “MA” for the state field. These simple changes have a big impact in future analytics usability and overall data quality.

Address Key Management Reporting Accessibility

We also frequently hear the lament “I can only get a report after weeks of waiting, if at all, and then it may not actually provide the analysis I needed.” This quick win is to move the reporting ability into the hands of the users. One key here, of course, is ease of use. The tool provided must be simple to use and intuitive. Including video tutorials, 1-on-1 or other training for the managers as it is rolled out is vital. It might be the same application or tool you used to provide your initial integration effort in the first quick win, which may mean less effort here as you continue to deliver incremental additional function.

This is a powerful quick win, however, due to the spotlight you have now aimed at your data. If management users can now easily see a view of the data from areas previously inaccessible, it pours fuel on the fires of change and speeds you along the DX journey.

Looking for a key quick win that spans several of the elements of the data strategy stack, as you can see, will power up your DX journey and demonstrate value to the organization, which, as we know, is key to motivating the necessary change adoption so vital to success in the transformation to a data-driven model.

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