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Untangle your data: How to leverage a strategy that proves ROI

Harnessing the power of data is a business imperative because of the opportunity it holds: competitive differentiation.

September 5, 2019 | By Jennifer Kling, Director of Enterprise Applications, Data Analytics & Insights, and Ram Palanaippan, Senior Practice Director of Data Analytics & Insights

"The biggest mistake companies make is settling on technology-based decisions without first having a strategy in place." - Jennifer Kling, TEKsystems

Today’s businesses change…quickly. Recent startups are becoming more valuable than companies with decade-long histories. The big differentiator? Their ability to leverage data.

Data is incredibly valuable information generated from every aspect of the enterprise, including research and development, sales and marketing, supply chain and customer service. Every activity in every facet of the business provides data. And it goes well beyond the organization’s four walls.

Unfortunately, many struggle to use data to their advantage. On The Agile World podcast hosted by Greg Kihlström, we discuss how organizations can set themselves up for business success with data.

Identifying your biggest data challenge

One of the biggest challenges we see is not actually having a data strategy. Without a data strategy, you can’t identify:

  1. Where the quickest wins might be
  2. Business problems that need to be solved
  3. How to go about solving those problems

Historically, organizations have treated data as a precious commodity or luxury item—but it’s not! Once you start to view your data as an accessible necessity—akin to water or electricity—it will help to drive the business strategy.

Determine the data strategy

Strategy drives execution. It’s the map to help you reach your goals in the shortest amount of time with minimal effort. It can pull you back on track if you’re driving in the wrong direction to your destination. Having a strategy will drive you to success.

For an organization to truly understand what is most critical to them, they need to work within their individual lines of business (e.g., finance, marketing, human resources, operations) to understand what problems or business challenges each business unit is trying to solve to look for synergies throughout the organization that will inform the data strategy.

A la the pulse within a human body, data is the business lifeblood and determines the health of an organization.

Determine what type of data you need (and already have) access to. It’s important to have a roadmap to know the role that each source of data is going to play in delivering upon your data strategy.

Make sure you’re not hoarding or overcollecting data from too many sources that are redundant or irrelevant. Too much data without a comprehensive strategy can create a lot of noise and confusion when attempting to solve analytics requests.

Build a strategy for how to use your data today, tomorrow and years down the line because you may not use a particular set of data today but you may need it in the future—and vice versa.

Organizations typically don’t understand the value in having a data strategy until they realize they’ve overlooked it. All too often we see clients too eager to achieve wins and jump right in where they see their competition might be without taking the critical step of creating a data strategy and roadmap.

Optimize your data strategy

“Long term” in today’s world is one to three years. It’s critical to look at your data strategy as your business changes.

Putting together a data strategy is not a point-in-time activity to set and forget. It’s a very iterative process and it’s critical to review on a consistent basis. Priorities change, tools change and technologies change. It’s an agile world—you need to pivot and adjust to meet changing business goals.

Want to know the secret sauce? You’re on the right data track if you can identify your quick wins or quick failures with the ability and desire to pivot. Forget about executing on long, drawn-out initiatives. If you’re not seeing quick wins—hit pause, reset and pivot to execute on your plan, stay on track and within budget.

Ready to start shaping your data strategy to prove ROI?

If your company doesn’t have a data strategy, this is an excellent opportunity to look at how you will transform your entire business, not just your systems and tools. Define what you want to accomplish with realistic goals and outcomes. Talk about the problems you’re trying to solve—what do you want to predict and what do you wish you knew? To learn more about our perspective and how organizations are harnessing the power of data to drive strategic, profitable and sustainable growth, check out our new quarterly publication Version Next, Now.

Jennifer Kling is a high-energy team player with in-depth experience across multiple industries and experience supporting functional business requirements across a multitude of corporate functions. With over 20 years of IT experience, including more than 17 years of SAP experience and 40 global SAP implementations, Jennifer has proven results in all phases of the software development life cycle. She has expertise in workforce planning to reduce organizational headcount, increase ROI and reduce total cost of ownership.

Senior leader, innovator and technologist Ram Palaniappan brings broad experience in big data, BI, mobility and cloud solutions. Ram has worked with Oracle and Deloitte and is a featured thought leader in the space, including contributing to articles in major IT publications, such as InformationWeek, and serving as a featured speaker at multiple forums and conferences.

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