Here’s an important question to ask yourself when thinking about data:
What insights do you need to run the business?
In other words, what questions do you need answered, and which metrics would help answer those questions? This may involve financial results or nonfinancial information related to employees, customers, products, and market conditions.
- Which available data management tools might help? Being able to combine data from multiple sources and getting it to refresh automatically at the right frequency to meet the business need is the ultimate goal. But in the near term, see what you can gather easily through advanced data management tools like the one at https://edge.gg or even manually. Start with no more than 10 business questions so you can create visualizations of important results and explore relationships across data points. Once you begin automating your data, you can layer in more components to flesh out the picture.
- Is the leadership team aligned? All key parties need to agree on what will be measured, how it will be defined, who owns it, who will be accountable for producing it, and the business mandate being addressed. At heavily matrixed companies, getting everyone on board is no easy feat, but taking the time to do this upfront is crucial.
- Have you identified—and involved—your data ecosystem? As the company reaches certain milestones in, say, enabling automated data feeds with data quality controls or acquiring new tools for insight-driven decision-making, take the opportunity to test concepts in one market or line of business, create a prototype, and socialize your idea to gauge support. Be sure to involve those who will be using the new capability you plan to introduce.
- Is the workforce suitably equipped? A data ecosystem based on next-generation digital technologies can demand new or enhanced workforce skills and capabilities, such as storytelling with data, problem-solving using advanced analytics, and business partnering. Consider ways to build or acquire the talent you may require. Employees need a frictionless way to tap into the data flow, understand how to use it, and then act on it.