Data this and data that – tips to avoid data chaos


At the core of almost every business conversation centered around growth and competitive gain today lies the topic of data. It is the single most valuable asset to many businesses – not matter industry or size. Data has taken the world by storm and continues to shape how businesses operate and transform to ensure relevancy today and, in the years to come.

Fuelled by technological development, data is coming into organisations from every angle. Naturally, business users within the company want to be able to leverage this data to help them fulfill their role and support overall business growth and transformation. While the business shouldn’t necessarily complain about this, if not managed accurately, this ‘data this data that’ focus can result in organisational data chaos.

In an environment where data is uncontrolled and dispersed across the organisation, business users are troubled with having to identify between distributed data assets and try to make sense of them – like needing to determine which is the real master copy of the data or the real version of the truth – for the data to be effective. The bottom line is that this is not the role of the business user and having to spend time determining whether the data is up to date, validated or complete, is a waste of a scarce resource.

Instead, an organisation that is steering a tight data ship forward knows that the correct version of the data must be available to the business user for them to be able to carry out their actual job function/role – which is interpreting the data and using it in business-oriented decision-making.

While achieving this is no easy feat, it is most definitely a manageable one, when the right processes and technical solutions that support a data driven approach are in place. 

A dedicated data team

For a business to reap the rewards of a data focused approach, the organisation needs a team of data stewards. The sole responsibility of this team is to serve the business users by providing them with the accurate data they need, when they need it and in the format and level of quality they require, to be able to carry out their business functions and responsibilities. Setting the business users up with the wrong data or data of poor quality is only setting them up to fail.

A strategy for data management with the right tools

To be able to produce quality data and at the level the business users need, the data team needs to be working off data that is running through a dedicated and managed data system. Technical based data management solutions play a critical role in guiding an effective data driven business forward. Aspects like data inventory, data cataloguing or data dictionaries are central to this. Without this focus, the job of the data team is rather impossible, with a knock-on effect that impacts the entire organisation.  

Data governance the golden thread

Of course, none of this should take place if data governance does not fall at the centre of anything data related an organisation carries out. Policies, procedures and work approaches linked to data must be defined around data governance and compliance. And this must be driven by the C-Suite level, from the top down, in order for any data strategy to succeed.

While every business wants to be data driven to benefit from this asset that is only growing in relevance, it is critically important to not let data cause chaos in an organisational structure. To avoid this, I believe that a strong focus is needed on the above identified points – looking at the various technical solutions required in order to provide high quality, correct and suitable data to the business user, while being enterprise lead and with governance top of mind. It is only when such points are visibly actioned within an organisation can it really reap the benefits data has to offer.

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