Steve Whiting, COO of Agile Solutions GB LTD, looks at why a data management culture offers huge opportunities to businesses.
The business landscape has completely changed in a short period of time owing to the fast-paced integration of technology solutions that have come with the digital age.
Due to this change, our personal lives have also changed – we interact with companies in a more seamless manner and our experiences with brands are different. As such businesses operating across both B2B and B2C worlds now have a golden asset that is often not being used to its full potential: data.
Data has been heralded as the new gold by some influential figures, including the CEO of Siemens. As people start to scratch the surface of what data can do it’s going to become clearer that the investment in data will bring many returns that ensure your business can transform, survive and thrive.
What can data do for you?
Through my experience many companies are currently doing data management well. They have good analytic solutions and robust, secure storage to prevent it become vulnerable to attacks. However, it typically doesn’t go beyond this and herein lies the missed opportunity.
Data is a hugely valuable tool that can help companies grow by identifying new services, trends, respond and adjust quickly and it can also be sold to third parties as a ‘side hustle’.
In fact, the element of the third-party buying data is something that many companies should be looking at as a way of generating income for data they have available to generate additional revenue and enhance their offering. For example, a car manufacturer could share GPS data with weather companies to make for accurate, real time weather information.
Data management shouldn’t just be looking at analytics but should shift towards real time reporting that provides a business with agility to respond quickly. This will be hugely important for many companies as they face an unknown future with Brexit. It also means that responding to an unforeseen need or situation is able to happen quickly.
Data can also help drive efficiencies and limit risk, meaning that companies can do things right the first time without making expensive mistakes. Take Starbucks as a classic example. The coffee chain has been criticised for poor planning by opening a number of stores in a close proximity; however, this was no error. The Starbucks team analysed data from existing sites to identify where new stores would see strong sales and as such it has dictated its growth plans. This has prevented costly mistakes and mean that new branches have succeeded at a higher rate than before.
Some companies now purely place their success on their ability to maximise their data. Take ASOS for example the CEO was quoted saying “Everything we do here is anchored in data.” ASOS uses the data it has to recommend specific products to shoppers when they’re browsing other sites, making it easier to drive people to the site and convert sales.
Other major players such as Netflix, GE and Ocado all cite data as a main driver to their companies success.
But how have they managed to use data so successfully when others have lagged behind? It’s all about how we think about data.
Change the way you view data
In general, we see most companies set out its strategy and objectives and then look at the data to work towards these. However, that’s the wrong way around. Organisations should be looking at the data and letting that dictate the direction of the business.
By simply looking at the data you have available you can establish what growth areas you should focus on, what new services/products you should develop and if there is interesting insight that other companies may pay for.
But how do you flip from this ‘data culture’ to a ‘data management culture’?
What’s a data management culture:
It’s all about changing perceptions of data within the team and educating them on the value and importance of data management. You need to shift from understanding the functional need for data to understanding the organisational need for data.
It’s no longer good enough to be proficient in collecting data, but now needs to be collecting data from the right place. Adjusting the attitude from data fixing with limited organisational scope to data fixing with understood organisational scope.
Changing the mindset of it doesn’t exist we can create it, to does it really not exist? If not, then we can create it. And ultimately being more confident in the data. No longer saying ‘this looks like the right data’ but ‘this is the right data.’
Data needs to be embedded in the culture and encourage more critical thinking that will lead to greater business success.
How to create a data management culture in your organisation
As I mentioned the crucial part here is education. For us we know that once teams understand the value of data management and how hard it can be working for the business, they are on board and able to adopt the new way of thinking.
Start small but think big. It will take years to create the data management culture that can drive successful outcomes but it’s important to make a start and put the steps in place to achieve a data management culture.
- Start off with basic sessions where you run through some examples of how other businesses have used data, such as Netflix, ASOS or look for examples closer to your industry to add that dynamic of understanding.
- Challenge the team to think about how other industries could use the data you have as a way of creating a new revenue stream.
- Host interactive style workshops where you discuss with small groups of the team ways in which they use data currently and how they can use it more to their advantage. What happens currently if they notice a trend in their data? Is it just used as information or do they think about the meaning behind it and how it could help the team develop more offerings?
- Share success stories of how the company has used data for its benefit. These examples not only provide motivation for the team but help spark ideas across different teams.
We very much see the future as data and challenge all companies to start thinking about how their data can become the invaluable asset it should be.
Steve has over 15 years’ consulting experience working with leading UK firms on data management and analytics. As COO, Steve helps organisations understand how data should be utilised to drive their businesses forward and provide operational efficiencies or monetised outcomes. Steve is also an expert in the complex landscapes that many organisations have and is able to mobilise Agile’s resources and knowledge to provide industry-leading solutions for clients across all sectors.