Data is a tech problem, and you have tech guys who handle that, right? Wrong. Data isn’t just a technical problem. It’s primarily a business problem. Which requires a business focus. For you as a CIO it represents an opportunity to make a real statement.
Let’s start with the two more technical things that you should be doing, both of which are completely within your control:
- Simplify your estate of systems
- Get the data architecture right
Remember that the areas in which youcan make the biggest difference as CIO are simplification and architecture. Even if nothing else, you should take these two things away from this article.Nowlet’s talk you through the rest of the process.
- Understand your Data Value Proposition
First thing’s first – establish a data value proposition. Business isabout value. And thatextends to data value. Firms with a data strategy typically get better results – 8% profit increases, 8% revenue increases, 4% cost reductions.And if you want data to work for your business, the first step is deciding exactly whatkind of value you’re looking for. What do you want data to do for you?
What are your priorities? Increasing profit or revenue, lowering cost or risk, increasing customer or employee satisfaction? Effective deployment of data can accomplish any and all of these goals.
Your value proposition depends on your business strategy. In the current climate, improving profitability and revenue, and increasing employee satisfaction, are priorities for many businesses.
Perhaps employee retention is currently a concern –employees are dissatisfied because they want to work from home, or your corporation is being affected by the growing number of employees choosing to work for startups. Or perhaps you want to elevate customer satisfaction. What the customer wants is changing, and many businesses are finding that their customer satisfaction is dipping as a result; e.g. customers want a digital experience, they want to purchase online, they don’t want to purchase in store.
You need data to understand all of these kinds of changes. And your data strategy should serve your business strategy.
- Simplify your Estate of Systems
To make a data strategy work, you’re clearly going to need some data to use. So, you need to capture and manage data within your systems. And if you can’t access your data within your systems, you can’t do anything with it; you can’t apply analytics and you can’t solve problems. So, the next step in the data process is the simplification of your estate of systems. The more complex your estate of systems, the more inaccessible your data.
And as CIO you own this. You might have multiple HR systems, multiple finance systems, multiple policy systems, and so on. And if you’re trying to access data across all of these, it’s clear that things are quickly going to get complicated. How do you even begin to extract the data you need?
You don’t want to find yourself in breach of GDPR, or with displeased customers on your hands, or simply being less effective than you could be, all because you’re updating data in one system and the data isn’t matching across all of your systems. Failing to propagate the same data is legally problematic, and it’s problematic for good business. You need a single source of truth. You need to simplify.
- Get your Architecture Right
Now let’s talk about architecture. This is the second crucial area in which you can make an impact in your capacity as CIO.
By architecture, we mean the platforms for your end to end data process. Having this end to end data process is critical; it’s the part that joins everything up. You need the architecture and the core capabilities, including data quality, data governance, analytics, data science, data engineering, data acquisition, reports, dashboards, and KPIs. But you also need all of these things to work in unison.
You need a data capability – a set of resources with the right skills, the right kind of motivation, and a business focus. You might currently have lots of individuals doing lots of individual things. You need your people to work as a team in order to be most effective. You’ve got to know how you’re creating value.
- Leverage your Data Community
Let’s get the right people involved. By ‘data community’ we mean all the people in your organisation who ‘don’t work in data’, e.g. those in finance, HR, or marketing who perform data analysis as a core part of their day-to-day role. They have insights. They’re the experts in using the data. And you need to be leveraging them.
- Don’t Forget the Fundamentals
Automation is key to your data success and, fortunately for your business, it’s something that you know all about.
Automation is the reason why technology exists. Some tasks, such as synthesising big, complex data sets of invoices, are simply too complicated and time-consuming for an individual to perform.
Let’s not overcomplicate things. The point of AI and machine learning is that we can automate tasks. And automating gets you to the answer more quickly and gets you answers from data sets too complex for humans to analyse.
As CIO, this is an area in which you’re well versed. You’re cut out for the task.
Consider this a call to take charge of automating the data journey and data processes for your business.
 CIO.com, ‘Data-Driven Companies Outperform Their Peers’ (2022) <https://www.cio.com/article/305281/data-driven-companies-outperform-their-peers.html> [accessed 8 December 2022]