Being “data-driven” has been a commonly professed objective for many firms over the past decade or so. Whether their larger goal is to achieve digital transformation, “compete on analytics,” or become “AI-first,” embracing and successfully managing data in all its forms is an essential prerequisite.
However, it is seen that progress towards the data-oriented goals was painfully slow. Leading corporations seem to be failing in their efforts to become data-driven. A new Vantage Partners Report 2021 Big Data and AI Executive Survey says “Making a commitment to data-driven transformation is one thing; executing on that commitment is quite another. A decade into these efforts, companies still have a long-way to go – only 39.3% are managing data as an asset; only 24.4% have forged a data culture within their firms; only 24.0% have created a data-driven organization”. If this is state of data-driven companies in US, the situation in India is even more precarious.
What obstacles prevent companies from becoming data-driven? How does a successful data-driven organization work?
People: Do you have the right people for the job. In India, most of the times it is seen that employees from IT department are given additional role as data analyst. How can the employees do justice to these very critical roles. Obviously one function suffers. Have you hired a professionally trained Data Analyst or Data Scientist.
Objective: The first step in putting together an effective data-driven strategy is to determine exactly what your business is hoping to achieve, and therefore which types of data you need to be using in your everyday working life. Hire the right people with clear objective and clearly defined roles for the employees. In India, very often, exact opposite of this is seen.
Data Quality: Poor quality, outdated, not-fit-for-purpose or unrequired data seriously affects the way information can be used; as a consequence, inefficiencies increase. The quality of data is crucial for companies that want to base their decisions on it. Too much data or storing unrequired data increases the time & effort of managing data. A Data Analyst is then reduced to working like Data Engineer.
Data As Asset: Data is an economic asset that can help organizations improve operations, increase revenue, solidify relationships with stakeholders, produce new revenue streams, improve the quality of current products, establish competitive differentiation, allow innovation, and reduce risks. However we have to spend money in technology, infrastructure and people to effectively manage data. Like any other asset apart from initial procurement costs there is a maintenance cost. In the Indian context most management (even in large corporations) believe the software should be free or you pay for one copy and use. There is no charge if I want to use somebody else’s data. And to top it, the is no respect for data privacy laws.
Data Accessibility: Is your organization data available to all those who require it. Do the users have the right tool to use the data for day-to-day decisions. Users will only adopt data-driven approach if the data us accessible and they are equipped with easy-to-use tools. Remove hurdles standing between employees and data accessibility and you’ll see adoption rise.
Organization: Last but main obstacle, the one which leads to the failure of any data-driven strategy, is organization itself. “Political” issues and / or top-down management dictats are often the biggest barrier. If top management decides data is put aside. To overcome it, the entire company must be involved in the implementation of the strategy, including all users, who must be properly trained, starting with the top management.
If you want to build a data-based organization, the data culture must be pervasive: data must be transparent, and everyone within an organization should understand how the company works and have the possibility to make an impact.
If we were to summarize everything in one line: A modern business would data driven if data is truly treated as an asset i.e. powered by technology to generate high quality data and is driven by people.
By Cyrus Lentin (Consultant with IndusGuru Network Partners)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of IndusGuru Network Partners