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    Data heaven or hell?

    Is your organisation in data heaven or data hell?

    In this post we’ll explore what characterises data heaven and data hell. If you think you’re organisation is getting too hot (i.e. too close to hell), don’t worry, we’ll provide some suggestions on how to redeem yourself with our 3 steps to heaven…

    Every organisation is searching for an answer to the question. How do we best get value from our data?

    Let’s start by defining what we mean by value from our data. Value in this context, is the ability to use business data to improve decision making, performance and ultimately outcomes for stakeholders. It may also be the provision of data to support other strategic initiatives and ensure successful outcomes. Delivering value from data is a process that’s sometimes aligned with business intelligence (BI) and how efficient your organisation is in delivering this process will arguably over time, be a factor in its success. However, in the modern enterprise, BI is not the only show in town, many organisations are on a transformational journey to deliver digital services, implement process automation and other strategic outcomes that will seek to deliver value using data. Quality data!

    Now, you may be surprised to hear that every organisation, including yours, is delivering business intelligence to its stakeholders. How efficient it is at this process is perhaps open to internal debate, but it will be delivering information to the business to enable it to function. How many orders did we fulfil today? How many new customers this month? The efficiency of your organisation’s BI process will probably determine whether you perceive your organisation to be in data heaven or hell!

    Data hell

    This is the place where your data to value process is at its most inefficient. A place where, as a business leader you will want to take steps to improve and change. It may be characterised in a variety of ways, but some examples are below. How many do you recognise in your own organisation?

    • You don’t believe what you’re seeing in a report – trust in your data is broken
    • Performance and operational data is extracted from application databases (normally several), transformed (tweaked, tinkered, munged – you choose the words) and presented as fact by multiple business units. “Information cottage industries” abound!
    • There is no clarity nor understanding as to what certain types of data means. What constitutes an order? A customer?
    • Data analysts, scientists and others spending close to 80% of their time “munging” (collecting and cleaning) data and only 20% of their time analysing it!
    • You have a requirement for information to inform a decision and it takes days, weeks to arrive if at all!
    • Poor customer satisfaction, increasing complaints
    • Poor operational efficiency affecting service delivery
    • Your organisation regularly embarks upon, time consuming, resource hungry “data cleansing” projects only to find they’re needing to be repeated soon after
    • You’ve spent what seems to have been an eternity building a data warehouse that is not satisfying the information needs of the whole business

    I could go on… If you recognise even one of these traits, the likelihood is that your business is in data hell!

    Data heaven

    By way of contrast data heaven is the opposite of the above. In data heaven, clear ownership of data assets has been established and the processes to sustainably maintain high levels of data quality are embedded as business-as-usual activities. Data owners, business heads and others can self-serve insights from a trusted data source, analyse their data, build their own data marts and identify new insights and areas for process improvement. Automation of processes to monitor data from a quality and data protection perspective are a common occurrence and constantly being enhanced as new requirements emerge.

    Data analysts (and scientists) are able to source data from sources that they know are being maintained to high levels of quality and can easily search, browse and analyse the data themselves without unnecessary involvement of IT.

    There is a data dictionary that the business can refer to that clearly defines what data there is, how it is used, where it is used and why.

    The organisation is successfully delivering its strategic goals and is delivering more. Process automation, digital transformation initiatives are running and delivering tangible returns as the data used for these projects is of a high quality and well managed.

    You regularly receive complements on product service delivery and quality.

    Performance is improving and your workforce are loyal, motivated and committed to continuous improvement.

    Welcome to data heaven!

    Three steps to data heaven…

    Step 1 – Recognise that you have a problem

    What every organisation needs, as the fuel, for the effective delivery of value from its data (however your business perceives it) is quality, ‘fit for purpose’ data. Indeed in recognition of this, the UK Government recently launched a Data Quality Framework (DQF) and established a Data Quality Hub as a resource for interested parties. This initiative is targeted with providing guidance on the principals and best practice for improving the quality of data across public institutions with the ambition that it will be more widely adopted by other UK companies.

    Step 2 – Understand your data quality problem and put in place processes to change the culture – embark on a data journey

    Infoboss provides the tools to help your organisation put in place a sustainable data quality management process or framework. We recognise that data quality management is not a point in time event and must be tackled in a holistic way. I.e. the solution will require people, process change and technology. On your data journey  you will need to consider data values, business requirements for your data and the data subject itself. We help you to understand the nature of your data quality and protection issues and provide a baseline assessment of the current position.

    To successfully resolve your data quality challenges your data must have clearly defined owners within the business. You will also need a data dictionary that is easily accessible and holds agreed definitions for the data inventory, entities and fields used within your organisation. You’ll also need to develop business rules for checking and maintaining data from both a quality, protection and compliance perspective.

    Finally, we help you to put it all together. We support your data owners to resolve long standing issues in the data and provide the means to monitor data to ensure it stays at a high level of quality, embedding as business-as-usual activity. Stopping dirty data at source and in turn preventing the quality of your data assets from deteriorating further.

    Step 3 – Derivation of value from your data

    The final step is to democratise access to data by empowering staff to obtain insights from data and use the data in the most effective ways to enhance business performance and outcomes for stakeholders. You will be highly optimised in your ability to process data and attain value from it. You will be able to monitor and report on progress being made on your journey to data heaven.

    To discover more about how you can ARM your organisation with the means to optimally derive value from your data in a sustainable way and move towards data heaven, please get in touch.

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