Walk into any boardroom or executive committee meeting, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear someone talking about data. And it’s no wonder. Data— and being a data-driven company— is a top priority for business leaders worldwide. Data unlocks a world of possibilities, from groundbreaking innovation and competitive edge to business transformation and market disruption. But what too many organizations who believe they are “data-driven” are starting to realize is that they actually are not. Let me explain.
Data is an asset that is available to virtually every organization on the planet. But it’s not about how much data an organization has, or how many business analysts or data scientists they hire to analyze it. Instead, it’s about how the organization uses that data – and uses it to the extreme. You may have heard the saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” And in today’s world where the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming increasingly more important, this is truer than ever before. Organizations that are disrupting their markets (and sometimes disrupting markets outside of their own) are the ones that measure everything about their customers, products, and services and interpret it in new ways to drive innovation.
Look at the classic examples of a data-driven company. Organizations such as Amazon and Google have been using data to the extreme since day one. They built their products to collect data. It was not about the money they charged for their product or service, but rather about the value they generated from the data itself. Simply put: they thought about data completely differently. They treated it as a true corporate asset – not as something to be modeled. And that shift in mindset is what helped them disrupt their markets and become the world-class organizations that they are today.
There are many aspects that go into treating data as a corporate asset, but a big one in my mind is how you govern your data. However, many customers and prospects that I talk to – who claim or aim to be data-driven – ask me how to make the business case for data governance. And my answer, quite simply, is you don’t. See, if you worked for a truly data-driven company, then nobody would ask you for a business case. They would accept that data governance was part and parcel to being data-driven. It’s not an initiative that needs buy-in, resources, and funding. Nobody thinks of it in terms of ROI. Rather, it’s just part of the way business is done. It’s a given.
So how do you know if your organization is truly data-driven, or just data-driven in disguise? Ask yourself one simple question: is data governance a given for your organization?