You can be that person. The one that purchases a gym membership as part of a new year’s resolution to get fit. The one who goes at least three times a week, takes up yoga, plays in the social basketball league, and has a new level of energy to try new sports and family activities on the journey to a new, healthier life. Work, holidays, taking the kids to Little League, and vacations never get in the way. You know you can be just like that person, get fit and try new things, but you worry you won’t use that gym membership enough and that only your bank account gets exercised, and only the gym owner reaps the value.
Data is like that gym. How much you use it, how well you exercise and apply it, and how far it reaches into your work life determine the value return from having it. And just like the treadmill, your data won’t deliver significant benefits to your organization from one time use. The value from data starts with its first use and increases with each additional use. The more you put it to work, the better the outcome.
When we look at all the uses of data organizations can embark upon, they fall into four main exercise groups of increasing benefit. Let’s go through each in turn and assess where your organization is in its journey to a healthier business.
You want to optimize how you deal with data and content generated as a byproduct of applications and your business processes. Think of this as the basic level of fitness you need before you try some new exercise classes.
Every organization is looking to reduce the cost of data storage and management, gain performance improvements from data systems, and free up investment for other initiatives by gaining operational efficiency.
Assess the data infrastructure underpinning your back office systems such as ERP, Billing and Order Management, and your enterprise content strategy. Are you happy with the price/performance? Can you uncover opportunities to consolidate, gain efficiency, or benefit from cloud?
Here your main task is to identify the places to better manage multiple workloads while reducing administration, storage, development and server costs.
You have access to lots of data sources inside and outside your organization, and want to use that data and content to gain visibility into how your business is doing. Think of this as joining new exercise classes now that you have the basic fitness to participate and benefit.
Many organizations are rethinking their data warehouses or building data lakes to capitalize on a greater variety of data sources, from operational systems to external data, unstructured and streaming data, so they gain a fuller picture of their business in the context of the world around them. Sensor data, videos, weather and social data are a few examples of new data sources that need to be incorporated and made available. Organizations are also facing increasing demand for data from the business, causing a growing IT backlog and siloed data sets and discovery tools.
Assess whether you have a solid data foundation for decision-making processes with business intelligence programs, and better manage the flow of information in business processes versus passing paper back and forth. Are you capitalizing on all possible data? Is your current data warehouse meeting your needs? What are your data lake plans with Hadoop and cloud? Are you comfortable with the quality and governance of your data?
Here your main task is to develop the data architecture, data catalog and governance to deliver the next level of data availability, accessibility and content management needed to manage and monitor the business.
You want yourself and others to have easy access to data and benefit from applying data science so everyone can make better decisions, take more effective actions, and improve outcomes.