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Developing a Data Strategy: How to Find Pearls in a Sea of Information

By Christopher Jan Benitez Reviewed By Mike Lucas
By Christopher Jan Benitez Reviewed By Mike Lucas

As a part of running a business, finding ways to one-up the competition is in your best interest. Data happens to be one of the solutions that are staring most organizations right in the face. The possibilities of data helping corporations achieve their business goals are endless. However, the volume of data available to most companies doesn’t matter if they don’t know how to use them, let alone gather and store them. Developing a data strategy is crucial.

If you happen to be one of the people who genuinely believe in the power of data and wish to unleash it as part of your overall business strategy, then you’re in luck!

Let’s put data strategy under a microscope. After breaking down the concept to its core, we’ll look into different ways you can create a data strategy that will put your business at the cutting edge of our data-driven culture.

What Is a Data Strategy (and Why Is It Important)?

Data strategy refers to a company’s processes regarding the collection, storage and use of data.

In this context, data revolves around information that businesses can use to achieve company goals and business objectives, primarily but not limited to user information (i.e., name, address, billing details, etc.).

Your data strategy then dictates the changes your organization needs to make to meet those goals. With the ability to collect any type of data from users and other sources, more businesses can’t implement an effective data strategy that complements their overarching campaigns.

However, this isn’t necessarily the fault of organizations. Simply put, there is just so much data to gather right under everyone’s noses that it’s become much harder to collect, break down and organize them into valuable data for growing one’s business and increasing its performance.

Therefore, the demand for a robust data strategy framework is at an all-time high for any business or enterprise. By implementing data organization, your data strategy should deliver insights and help you make sense of the results and performance of your business. From here, you can streamline your efforts of managing data strategy from a company-wide sense. 

  • For Example 

    If all departments follow the same workflow, you can find information across different departments faster and more efficiently.

We see the back view of a music conductor, hands in the air (and a music baton in one of them) directing a background of swirling data.

What Are Some Essential Data Strategy Principles?

An effective data strategy is guided by core principles of gathering external data and encouraging employees to accomplish their tasks using them.

Here are three fundamental principles that embody data strategy:

Elimination of Data Silos

If you hear someone in your company telling you that information is shared seamlessly across the different departments, they probably don’t know any better or are lying.

There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the discrepancy between data and business teams. About 51% of business teams report bottleneck issues with data transfer, while 6% of data teams believe this is the case, according to Sigma Computing, a provider of cloud-based analytic services.

Regardless of which camp you believe in, data strategy can help you improve how your organization manages data.

As we said, data strategy allows your organization to develop a company-wide approach to handling data. This could include assimilating separate data silos into a single dashboard or system.

More importantly, breaking down conventional data silos paves the way for better access to information. This allows for an easier exchange of data between departments without the needless back-and-forth.

Set Clear Guidelines for Usage Through Data Governance

The biggest challenge a data strategy helps you overcome is determining what happens next after data is collected. How you store and pull data for use will be just as crucial as how you plan to use them.

This can be addressed in your data governance, where you set rules on how your employees use and implement data available in your organization. This set of rules should help protect sensitive user data and keep employees in line once they have their hands on them.

Establish Data Management Goals and Objectives

Having a transparent process in mind for your data strategy paves the way for a better ability to scale and measure performance.

The goal is to help grow your business via data analysis ultimately. However, that is only possible if you could break down the goal into smaller tasks depending on your industry and business key performance indicators.

Later on, we’ll discuss how you put this into action with some of your data strategy objectives.

How to Create a Successful Data Strategy

Developing a data strategy on an enterprise level is an added challenge to the complex machination of collecting and storing mountains of data. However, this is a necessary task for bigger businesses to put the data to good use.

Therefore, no matter how impossible it may be, you must do whatever it takes to leverage data to develop a strategy that works on all levels of your organization.

Here are steps you must take to get everybody on board with your data strategy goals.

Determine What Raw Data to Collect and How

The type of data your enterprise should gather depends on numerous factors.

As a data strategy example, software-as-a-service companies want to know their customer retention rates or the number of customers they can retain over a period. They also will have to understand how many new customers they are getting over the same period.

From these data points, they should uncover insights on how they can improve their products to reduce customer churn and increase new customers.

The metrics that enterprises use to measure business performance vary. But the point stands: Once you determine what required data you must collect, only then you’ll be able to understand how to manage big data as part of your business strategy.

Identify Tools to Use for Data Architecture

When it comes to collecting data, it’s a matter of using different tools to help automate the process.

That means migrating from legacy technologies to more advanced and efficient software. Even if you feel comfortable working with old reliable tools to gather data, 63% of employees feel that the use of insufficient software is stifling their productivity, according to Sigma Computing.

Again, making drastic changes to their systemic approach to doing things is inconvenient. But the benefits these tweaks bring in the long run more than covers for it.

If you’re looking to gather and store structured and unstructured data, NoSQL (Not Only SQL) allows you to organize big data with its own set of values.

This way, you have complete control over what information to store and manage on your part.

Aside from data storage, you need to worry about data security. For all-encompassing information security solutions complete with web application firewall, vulnerability management, and threat intelligence network protection, go with services such as Secureworks. There are other programs that only cover specific aspects of data security if you prefer this route.

Again, your choice of tools and strategies on your approach to data collection and what kinds of data you want to gather.

Set Up a Data Management Team

To help you sell your data strategy to the company, you must assemble a team of employees within your organization who can help fulfill your dream into reality. Choose people from department heads to managers who share the same goal regarding data management and data access across the organization.

Also, you must invite capable people who will provide different perspectives and skills to the table. 

For Example 

A portion of the work in data strategies ensures that the data sets are accessible and available for viewing by everybody in the organization. How data is delivered to the user based on user experience and interface is another part.

Another aspect of a data strategy is ensuring the tools and software used for data collection are compliant with standards and policies governing their use. This is where a member of your team enforces data governance rules.

Thus, a healthy balance of different competencies should help round out your team and cover all the necessary bases.

Identify Goals

As with most strategies, your business performance will be measured by how it stacks up against your long-term goals. And to help you inch closer to your overarching goals, you need to set yourself quick wins and short-term business goals.

In the case of data strategies, you must break down big-picture goals into manageable tasks your team can complete in a period.

For example, if one of your data goals is to empower employees to use data as part of their business processes, you need to make finding and breaking down data more accessible. Here’s a  step-by-step process on how you can do that:

  • Determine what data each department prioritizes and how you can source them on your end.
  • Ensure data quality is on part with the demands of users.
  • Create a user interface that allows employees to access data seamlessly and use them to accomplish their respective tasks.
  • Provide documentation on how users can put all the data gathered by your team to work.

In between each step, you should get feedback from some employees on improving the data quality, the UI/UX of the data presentation, and others.

Once you have their smaller goals in place, the bigger goals become much easier to tackle and accomplish.

From a computer screen, a woman executive holds up a folder marked “Data Strategy” in one hand and gives a thumbs up with the other.

Get the Green Light from Executives

The decision on how your data strategy will take shape starts from the top. Once you have the confidence of key decision-makers, you’ll have a much easier time getting the entire organization to get on board with your data strategy roadmap.

However, to get to that stage, you need them to buy into your comprehensive proposal detailing your enterprise data strategy plan. It must cover how you plan to use the information you will gather and store and what they should expect once the strategy is in full effect.

Note that your proposal may take time before it gets approved. Expect to revise your proposal multiple times to meet the standards of business leaders.

Also, consider that you are bridging the gap between the immense potential of data and business people. You have to communicate to the higher-ups how data can reimagine the organization in a way that resonates with them.

Another crucial matter? Getting other employees involved to help you envision a more fleshed-out data strategy. Doing so allows you to give them a sense of ownership of their role in the process once everything falls into place.

Therefore, if people are actively participating and are hands-on with your plan, the likelihood of your project getting approved increases.

All Aboard the Developing-a-Data-Strategy Train

A good data strategy allows employees to turn data into more prospects, sales, and conversions for your business.

And as the person spearheading this initiative, you need to acknowledge the gravity of what you’re trying to achieve.

It isn’t just about collecting and delivering data right at everybody’s fingertips. It’s also about getting people in the organization excited about the opportunities and possibilities that a data strategy aims to accomplish. 

By following the steps in developing a data strategy that everybody in the organization will buy into, you should leverage big data as a competitive advantage in the industry.

Christopher Jan Benitez Contributing Writer for Fast Capital 360
Christopher Jan Benitez is a contributing writer for Fast Capital 360. With over 13 years of writing experience, Chris specializes in the digital landscape and how it affects our experience. His work can be seen on Monitor Backlinks, DFY Links, Niche Pursuits and more.
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