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The Building Blocks of a True Data Initiative

Author: Kevin DeSilva

Date Published: March 17th, 2021

There is no question that Covid has permanently changed global life, and there is no going back. Thinking your business can sustain this downturn and just go back to normal is at best, naïve, and at worst, devastating. The pandemic has brought the realization that understanding the habits of customers (which are changing before our eyes) is imperative to sustaining the setback and coming out aggressively on the other side.

The reality is, in order to understand how to navigate the ‘new normal’, data must be more than just important…. It must be an initiative. It needs to become part of the basic structure of your business where decisions are made based on information and logic…not guesswork. As more and more industries adopt the use and culture of Data Analytics, those who do not embrace it will lose out, it is just a matter of when. This should be a concern for any organization driven to be successful in a competitive environment.

Where to begin?

A Complete Strategy:

IDC predicts the worlds collected data will surge to approximately 175 zettabytes by 2025. The speed at which organizations produce data is increasing exponentially but the adoption of data analytics is not increasing at the same pace, resulting is data wastage and failed insights. There is much confusion around ‘how’ to use this data causing a paralysis of action within many organizations. A sound plan and approach are the only true solution. this is a complex and long-term process based on that vision.

As a starting point, the 4 areas of adoption to ensure successful data maturity growth within a company is:

  • A data driven vision from the top down

  • A clear Business Intelligence Strategy

  • Resources, resources, resources

  • Companywide culture shift

Trickle down initiative:

Looking at the top companies, 70% of businesses believe that data warehouse optimization is critical to their success and 79% of enterprise executives say that not embracing big data will cause them to risk competitive position and face extinction.

Without a true commitment from the decision makers within a company, a Data Strategy will be incomplete. So many executives today struggle to understand the benefits beyond specific ad hoc projects or immediate needs. This is short sighted and the longer the delay, the further behind an organization will be from competing leaders who are committing to a strategy based on real data. The financial benefit must be viewed as horizontal with sufficient investment allocated today to that end.

A true road map:

Any journey takes preparation. One would not hike Mt. Everest without acquiring the experience, knowledge and support of a guide. It is no different with an Analytics journey. It may seem like a big initial investment, but if it is not handled the right way, the costs could become far more prohibitive further down the line. Understanding the technologies to ‘future proof’ your organization will take a unique vision that values experience within the BI space relying on understanding the genesis and journey of technology’s impact that can only come from hands on experience.

Tools and techniques are ramping up to offer far better efficiencies than ever before. Preparing a foundation to take advantage of changes over the next decade can help avoid costly investments in technology and resources. This is virgin territory for most Organizational leader, take advantage of a guide. It will pay off in spades.

Even more resources:

The biggest challenges for the next decade will be attracting and keeping talent capable and knowledgeable enough to carry out the strategy. The supply for Data analytics skillset is low while the demand is high, and according to IBM, will continue for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the number of jobs will increase by approximately 28% till 2026.

The reliance on existing infrastructure teams to deliver analytics has proven to create serious bottlenecks within the reporting stream. Business Intelligence is assumed the same as IT which will only create frustrations for existing resources within an organization to deliver results not truly tailored to their area of expertise. Supplemental resourcing is both a short- and long-term answer. Why invest in expensive in-house positions when there exist external resources that are well versed in Analytics?

Bottom-up driven culture:

Regardless of a clear direction and a well communicated strategy, without a commitment from employees, the time, money and effort in the first two steps will be wasted and few real benefits are realized. An alarming statistic from a 2020 survey of the top companies shows although 64% claim that they use data to drive innovations and 50% stat that they manage data as a business asset, only 26.8% claim that they have forged a data culture.

We believe one of the biggest reasons for a failed Data initiative is a lack of expectations and information. A captain can lead the oarsmen to row, but if half row one way and the other half the other, they will just go in circles with no advancement despite effort. Within high performing organizations, employee education, understanding and adoption is considerably higher than other organizations. It would make sense to drive the initiative from a front-line acceptance for the strategy created to be successful.

Engage an experienced team that has done this before, that can direct you around the common pitfalls that can add huge cost to the bottom line. Make sure they have proven experience, understand your industry and local environment. Big Data adoption is not a choice anymore, make sure you choose correctly.

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