Rhetoricians will tell you that important concepts bear repetition. Real estate agents will extol the importance of “location, location, location.” As the story goes, “practice, practice, practice” gets you to Carnegie Hall. And Macarthur, in his farewell speech at West Point, is quoted to have said his heart belongs to “The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps.”
In business, “data, data, data” is the trifecta of our times. How an organization conceives of, manages, utilizes, and frames data is the single most important factor in success. While many think data is an “elusive” concept, in reality, so much of the data needed to “win” already resides in the bowels of complex corporate systems. Put simply, the crown jewels are there but few have a key to the vault.
Add to the “data, data, data” jewel the “people, people, people.” As most CEOs will attest, people are one of the most crucial assets in the modern organization. In the people reside the motive force for innovation and the vigorous energy that drives organizations forward. Yes, the disconnection of these two assets – data and people – is perhaps the biggest untold story in the corporate world.
When hungry and innovative employees get timely, comprehensive, and contextual data on which to make decisions, build partnerships, create products, and devise strategies, they create conditions for growth and success. Yet, all too often, these two sources of greatness are forcibly kept apart.
Some organizations do this because of a strict “need to know” policy in which people are given inherently narrow tasks and are therefore data siloed. But others do it because of data systems devised and built in an era in which the two following fundamental ideas were not as dominant as they are today: First, that data is expanding at a geometrical rate; and second, that the hardware and software required for managing this data are relatively inexpensive. These changes have ushered in an era in which democratization of access to the corporate data jewel is possible.
Indeed, with a secure, governed, agile, and automated data infrastructure, organizations can easily marry “data, data, data” with the people who can dexterously wield the data to create heretofore impossible outcomes for the organization.
So the clarion call for this year is for all organizations to make the decision to develop such an infrastructure and move “data, data, data” into the center of the business process.
The technology exists now; we just need the will to leverage it.