In today’s digital economy, it is generally accepted by C-level executives that data informs strategic insights, yet confidence in the quality of the data is often lacking. True data-driven organisations like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Ryanair use data analytics as the primary driver of value creation and competitive advantage. Their use of data has effectively transformed the industries they compete in — and the very world we live in.
These behemoths may have been inspired by tech visionaries like Bill Gates, who in a 1999 Sunday Times Interview had the foresight to say:
“Virtually everything in business today is an undifferentiated commodity, except how a company manages its information…How you use information may be the one factor that determines its failure or success — or runaway success.” – Bill Gates
The Importance of Data at the C-level
Whether you’re the CEO, CFO, CIO, or Head of Sales, Risk, Compliance, or HR, the right data in your business applications is critical to your success. Unfortunately, when it comes to data, some C-level executives are shielded from what really goes on under the cover. They don’t fully understand where the data comes from and how it gets transformed, cleansed, and delivered to the CRM, HR, ERP, and reporting systems. How the data is governed along its path is important — as data moves through an organisation, its quality can be compromised which can have an impact on important business decisions and performance.
Ignoring data quality can come at a high cost to the business — organisations believe poor data quality to be responsible for an average of $15 million per year in losses, according to Gartner. Despite this, nearly 60% of organisations don’t measure the annual financial cost of poor quality data. So while many C-level executives are aware of the value of the insights unleashed by analytics, business intelligence, and regulatory reporting, many still lack the confidence in the quality of their data and don’t have the required competencies in the company to manage it effectively.
Organisations operating in highly regulated industries like financial services and healthcare were obliged to adopt data management and governance strategies several years ago. Others such as social media, retail and any organisations with access to personal data came under customer and market pressure to also adopt rigorous data management and data governance solutions. In these industries, we saw the appointment of the first executive-level data roles like Chief Data Officer, Head of Data Security, and Head of Risk and Compliance.
Using regulation as a springboard, smart companies are now leveraging the results of what they were obliged to do, as a competitive advantage. The executives who supported and invested in data are now reaping the rewards. GDPR was the catalyst that introduced the importance of how data is used across all verticals, however, in most cases this only highlighted the need for regulatory compliance. It did not lead to key data stakeholder appointments or how data is viewed at a business level.
Where do smart executives start?
It’s a common scene: a CEO sits in a board or management meeting where more time is spent trying to interpret the data or discussing whether the data is accurate rather than using insights to make decisions which could benefit the company. Often the primary action point of such meetings is to validate the accuracy of the data or assess why anomalies exist between similar data sets in different applications or divisions across the organisation.
With such a pressing pain point at the executive level, why is it so difficult to deploy clearly defined data management programs to alleviate common data challenges? There is not an enterprise organisation on the planet that hasn’t identified this need yet the problems persist. To get past these problems and bridge the gap between data and insights, organisations need a top-down approach to data management and a collaborative effort by IT and the business units.