Avoid Running into the Dark in the Race Against Data

  • Andrew Watson, Chief Technology Officer at MHR

  • 21.06.2022 11:45 am
  • #data

Businesses today have more access to data than ever before. As they grapple with this vast amount of information, there are an array of tools to help companies make sense of it all. For leaders, this should mean they have ample opportunities to make data-driven decisions that optimise performance and supercharge business growth.  

However, despite the technology being there to support them, the reality is that many businesses are overwhelmed with not only the sheer volume and velocity of the data they collect but are unclear how they can use the data to be able to make decisions. While they have good intentions to use it to their advantage, disjointed processes and dormant ‘shelfware’ is keeping a wealth of data stuck in silos – untapped and underutilised. Without a clear data strategy to guide the business, organisations will be running blind, unable to access and get value from the relevant data to make stronger predictions and smarter decisions. 

We all know that data continues to grow rapidly and the more it does, while it is untapped, will make it increasingly harder to start to utilise its value. To avoid struggling with the same old problems, organisations must urgently recalibrate their relationship with data and learn how to integrate and analyse it to find trends and informative information. So, instead of turning a goldmine of data assets into a digital landfill, leaders now have an opportunity to utilise the right tech solutions and harness the power of their data as a vital source of competitive advantage. 

The data treadmill

Data is captured by every business, in every department, every day. It’s everywhere. For organisations of any size, data can tell invaluable stories, from customer patterns and trends to the efficiency of internal business processes.  

But this data is only useful if organisations know what questions to ask of it. Currently, many are finding themselves on a data treadmill, constantly working to ‘catch up’ with data but failing to make progress as they are not utilising or optimising the data tools at their disposal. In fact, very few companies are fully embracing the spectrum of tools and methodologies available. Most businesses are spending disproportionate amounts of time on manual and laborious data processes, resulting in a ‘reporting lag’. By focusing on simply managing the mechanics of data, such as moving and storing it, businesses are struggling to unite and access real-time data insights, instead of creating disjointed silos that lack the enterprise-wide connectivity and visibility needed to identify where processes can be improved.  

Other businesses simply don’t know what they want to achieve with their data or are even unaware that they are capturing data in the first place. Data that are unused for analytics represents a missed opportunity for leaders to turn data into business value. This is typically not helped by organisations rushing into buying new systems during the pandemic and subsequently leaving them gathering dust, or only be used at a fraction of their full potential. In other cases, data scientists have been brought into an organisation but do not know where to start, as the wider business lacks a smart data strategy underpinned by clear objectives. All too often, analytics are left as an afterthought. 

To avoid lagging further behind, businesses need to become much more data-savvy. Leaders not only need to ascertain what decisions their company needs to make, and where they can get the data to support these choices, but they also need to change their data strategy by putting in place the tools and people that can integrate the data to find information that was previously unknown. This can only be achieved when business strategy and data strategy work in tandem and the data can be used in a way to drive and align the business strategy that was previously not possible

Uniting business strategy and data strategy

Any good business strategy should complement and align with the data being captured to measure improvements and ultimately drive business growth. 

As one of the four pillars of digital transformation, a strong data strategy is a cultural shift that requires top-down leadership. Leaders can ensure that the purpose and use of data within an organisation are directly linked to the core business goals, while guaranteeing that a new data-optimised culture is developed end-to-end throughout the company, thereby bridging the gap between business strategy and implementation. In turn, aligning business and data strategies enables organisations to accurately measure the success of the strategies currently in place, giving them greater visibility over the steps they need to take to drive further improvements. 

Data scientists are often viewed as the solution, but they may not have sufficient support to enable in-depth knowledge of how the business operates to ensure true strategic alignment. Therefore, an integrated software solution is needed to ensure that business and data are fully intertwined throughout the organisation. With the right tech solution in place, complex data processes can be streamlined and simplified through automation, empowering businesses to make informed strategic decisions from reliable and accurate data. Bringing together business and data strategies within a single, robust, and highly adaptable platform, the best software solutions will generate eye-opening insights that keep companies on top of their data, ensuring that they are not running blind in the race towards data maturity.  

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