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How to build a data-centric organisation

Data is growing at an unprecedented rate. According to a recent study, 90% of all the data in the world has been produced over the last two years – around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. That’s a lot of data being created, shared and liked across social channels, search engines, websites, content portals, video sharing platforms and numerous other channels.

Google, for instance, processes on average of 40,000 search queries every second, amounting to 3.5 billion searches each day. And with the number of connected devices growing exponentially each year, there is no slowing down the growth of data around the world.

It’s hard enough to get your head around these incredible numbers. But as a business owner, you must also be able to manage and control all the integrity of the data that goes in and out of your business. You need to create processes and a business culture that understands the value of data, organises business data for ease of use, and harnesses its power to drive ongoing success.

In other words, you need to develop a data management strategy.

What is a data-centric organisation?

Having a lot of data does not make your company data-centric. A data-centric organisation aligns people, processes and technology to produce, organise, protect and use relevant information to move the business forward. It places data at the heart of the business – gaining actionable insight and enabling better decision making.

However, creating a data-centric organisation is not easy. Based on a 2017 big data survey, more than 85% of companies have started programs to create data-driven cultures but only 37% report any success so far. So, how can it be done?

Develop a holistic data strategy

Do you have an overall strategy on how data will be handled across the business? Many companies rush to educate their staff or invest in the latest technologies. But the first step in building a data-centric organisation is to sit down and develop a holistic data strategy.

This strategy covers everything that involves your business data – from creation and organisation, to storage and analysis. It also includes how people will use the data and what technologies are required to manage and protect all important information.

Here are some tips on how to develop a data strategy:

  • Review the existing situation – how data is currently being managed and used
  • Establish a clear vision on how data can be used to meet business objectives
  • Have discussions across teams and departments to align processes and systems
  • Understand the skills and technologies needed to move forward
  • Implement clear data policies and guidelines

Remember to review your strategy regularly. This is not a set-and-forget exercise. Your data strategy needs to not only be comprehensive, but flexible enough to adapt to the changes in the business and in the industry.

Build the required technology infrastructure

Once your data strategy is in place, you need to consider how this strategy will be implemented across the business.

Business data can come from several sources – business documents, product information, social media, email, customer and financial details, third-party data and other relevant sources. Without the necessary applications or platforms, it would be very difficult to manage and control it all.

Having the right technology infrastructure ensures important business information is properly organised, secured and accessible by people across the organisation.

For instance, implementing an on-premise or cloud Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system creates a central platform where all content (from paper and digital documents to image and video files) can be easily stored, managed and shared.

Educate and train your employees

Implementing the best systems and technologies can help to remove the complexities of managing tonnes of data. However, it’s still not enough to truly build a data-centric organisation.

It’s your people who will determine the success (or failure) of your data-centric efforts. They are the ones who will use the tools to analyse and harness the power of your business data. Each employee needs to understand the value that your data represents and the impact it can have on your company.

It starts by encouraging a data-centric mindset across teams and individuals. Here are some tips:

  • Communicate the value of your business data
  • Conduct regular training on the use of data management tools and applications
  • Facilitate upskilling and specialised training for relevant staff
  • Involve people in the process of producing, managing and protecting your data
  • Establish clear roles & responsibilities

Enhance the data management strategy process

The final step in building a data-centric organisation focuses on improving your data management strategy process. How do you currently track and manage your data? How do you assess the quality, accuracy and completeness of the data you produce? How secure is your sensitive business information?

These are some of the questions you need to address when evaluating your current data management process. You need to go beyond the actual production and storage of your data – and cover issues on quality, privacy and security.

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