As your company’s connected and online business activities increase, so does the data generated by these interactions. But, how are you using this data? Are you harnessing the insights it imparts to increase sales or launch new products? If not, why not?
A study by the Global Association of Risk Professionals and SAS revealed that fewer than half of the managers surveyed said their financial institution’s expertise on data management was adequate or strong.
If you’re not quite there yet, it would appear on this basis that you’re not alone.
This lack of expertise is widespread across many sectors and industries, and it could be depriving you of the opportunity to capitalize on the data you possess. In addition, it could put you in risk of neglecting the protection of data, risking your brand reputation and regulatory sanctions, such as the ones listed in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) where fines run up to 4% of annual turnover.
If you’re in the process of examining your organization’s data management position, these five steps will help you improve your data management processes to the point of profitable impact.
1) Take ownership of data management
Many organizations are now employing chief data officers (CDOs) to help them manage data governance and the use of data as a business asset. And, with good reason: a survey by Forrester Research found organizations with a CDO were 70% more likely to reduce risk and better ensure compliance than an organization without a CDO.
But still, a considerable number of enterprises—60.6% according to a survey from NewVantage Partners—identify others as the point of primary responsibility for data strategy and results, or claim no single point of accountability.
So, the first step is to place data management responsibility where it makes the most sense. By re-shaping your business approach to data strategy, and by appointing individuals to take responsibility for implementing and governing it, you begin to take ownership of your data.
You’ll now have accountability, and with this comes procedures and processes to help you govern your usage of data, allowing you to start to use it as an asset for delivering business success.
2) Create a connected data basis
How do you collect, process, store and consume data across your business? The likelihood is that as your organization has grown, data management has become decentralized with no real management strategy in place to support it, and, to be frank, it’s become a bit of a nightmare to manage.
Disparate systems need to be connected and data architecture standardized. Once you’ve achieved this, you can begin to align your use of data with your business strategy.
Organizations working with fragmented legacy systems are experiencing insurmountable gaps when they try to retrieve and utilise their data. They’re also risking non-compliance with new regulations as they can’t provide the transparency needed to show how their information was acquired.
You can choose to link your existing systems, replace them with a new one, or opt for a combination. The essential thing is that your data system(s) support data coherence and visibility, as well as deduplication, and use archive technologies to allow you to protect more, while storing only what you need. It also needs to be flexible enough to support future growth.
3) Manage your metadata
Metadata provides information on your primary data such as when it was acquired, created or revised—plus its location and how it’s formatted.
Managing your metadata and creating a consistent business information infrastructure is vital when it comes to referencing, accessing and consuming business data. Many organizations are missing basic facts including who owns specific information, how important that information is and how relevant it is to the business.
Managing your metadata will help you map and classify information and assess its value so you can protect and prioritise data that’s valuable to you.
4) Plan how to deliver your data
Once your data is under control, how can you format and deliver it for optimum use across the business? This is particularly important if your company operates multiple ERP and CRM technologies and e-commerce platforms.
Data delivery is about putting relevant information into the right systems and into the hands of the right people. As the GDPR and its likes loom, accurate reporting is essential. Businesses will be required to provide detailed information on the acquisition, management and protection of the data they possess.
You need to have systems in place that enable users to take actual business actions based on data-driven insight, for instance by using customer data reports to enhance existing products and create new ones geared towards an identified customer need.
5) Adopt consistent policies
With a data platform in place, you can finally work on your data governance by implementing consistent company policies around your handling and use of data. These should cover physical, virtual and cloud environments. All your information should be classified and controls set regarding access, distribution, retention and deletion.
(Learn 10 easy steps to data governance here.)
Although data management is an evolving process for many organizations, reaching this stage of being able to apply company-wide policies around data feels like quite an achievement.
And, the pressure is on for businesses to reach this milestone sooner rather than later—if they’re to optimize their business and avoid penalties for the mishandling of data.
Want to know more about how organizations are coping with Master Data Management and benchmark yourself against the competition? Feel free to download this ebook: