Sometimes I like to read a book purely for pleasure, like a good Dan Brown or Stephen King novel, and sometimes I like to read a book to learn something new. There are not many books that I read for both pleasure and to learn new things. One exception is Telling Your Data Story: Data Storytelling for Data Management, by Scott Taylor.
“Good decisions made on bad data are just bad decisions you don’t know about…yet.” Starting with this opening sentence all the way through to the last sentence in the book, I was captivated and kept on reading—learning and enjoying at the same time.
This book explains the value of data management in ways people who don’t live and breathe data management can appreciate. I often get asked during my data modeling consulting and training assignments, “How do you convince management of the value of a data model?” Generalizing this question to data management instead of data modeling, Taylor has the answers in this book.
With permission from the publisher, please enjoy the following subset from Taylor’s introduction to the book. Note the entertaining writing style that wants us to keep reading.
Everything we do today turns to data. As your business and business processes go from analog to digital, everything you do turns to data. Yet, enterprises of all sizes are struggling to make sense of it all. Instead of delivering incredible value, much of this data is creating a lot of chaos. Finding value in data is elusive and frustrating. How do you determine the truth and derive meaning from all that data to grow, improve, and protect your business?
What is your business case for data? I suggest it is the very business you are in. I assume your business purpose is to deliver value to your relationships through your brands at scale. Delivering value to relationships through brands has always been at the core of business. To do it at scale takes technology. Technology requires data. Data requires data management.
When you try to determine the truth and derive meaning from data, where do you begin? I begin with the simplest, most important data of all. It is the data about your relationships and your brands. Your relationships: customer, vendor, partner, prospect, supplier, citizen, patient, client, or consumer.
How reliable is your data about those relationships? Duplicates? Confusing hierarchies? Missing classifications and segments? Conflicting geographies and markets? What about the data on your brands? Products, services, offerings, SKUs, banners, locations, materials, ingredients, and concepts? That might be a bit of a mess too.
Data management is one of the most important, and overlooked, competencies at most enterprises. It is an unsung hero behind many business initiatives. If you already know that, then this book will help you explain it to others. If you don’t realize that, then this book will help you understand.
The entire purpose of this book is to help secure stakeholder involvement and executive commitment to managing data—to help you fund and support data management as a systematic, consistent, and fundamental part of your business. Not a project, but a program, Not a tactical exercise, but a strategic imperative.
If you are like most companies, you have multiple systems and workflows that support separate departments and divisions. Your relationship and brand data get created with differing definitions that lack internal standards.
You may already know how to fix your data, but your business leaders ignore your advice. Your business has no interest in your beautiful data “quality” dashboards. Your stakeholders don’t care about data “hygiene.” When presenting endlessly on your data maturity assessment, you start to sound adolescent. You fail to gain a commitment to support your data management efforts.
To better leverage the value of data management across an enterprise, the essentials must first be understood. This book covers the strategic and foundational benefits of data management, including industry trends, basic definitions, business-oriented frameworks, and identifying obstacles to help you tell your data story. When you explain it to the business, they are nodding “yes” on the outside and nodding off on the inside. This book is about why foundational data is important for your organization, and most of all, it is about how to talk about it. I am an expert in ways to talk about the value of data management. To win your leaders over, you need to tell a better story.