Data. Business enabler or business nightmare?

The Ernst & Young survey, The DNA of the CIO,, highlighted that many CIO’s struggle to be taken seriously by their C-level  colleagues . In many cases this is due to a “business as usual” perception of IT, rather than a “business enabler”  perception. The CIO is regarded as doing a good enough job as long as IT is running smoothly, but is not regarded as a true enabler of business change, or a contributor to strategy.

Data management is an emerging discipline that bridges the gap between business and IT. Ultimately, while systems and infrastructure may come and go, data is pervasive. It moves from one environment to another, survives corporate mergers and acquisitions, and is shared across multiple systems – from ERP to CRM to the data warehouse. Understandably, as data migrates from system to system, or is used for new and unforeseen purposes it may no longer have an ideal fit to the needs of the business.

Almost every project contains an element of data management – even if this is simply a case of massaging existing data to fit the new purpose, or massaging multi0ple sources of data to create a common understanding for central purposes.  In many cases, these tactical initiatives are poorly scoped and planned, as they are not seen to be as important as the functional design which is better understood. This creates a significant level of project risk as data is taken into the new system only to find that it does not support the business processes – data may be missing, inconsistent or just inadequate.

These tactical initiates may also overlap, with many projects delivering similar results. In the best case this is just a waste of money. In the worst case, these conflicting projects may produce multiple, inconsistent views of truth – adding additional complexity and confusion for subsequent users.

Business is recognising this and we are seeing substantial interest for our core value propositions – enterprise Data Governance, enterprise Data Quality and Master Data Management.  In some instances, we are also seeing the emergence of a new C-level post, the Chief Data Officer, as business seeks to take control of this complexity. In this scenario, the CIO may simply be asked to provide infrastructure.

The most successful data management approaches are characterised by multifunctional teams blending both business members, who have the best understanding of the use of data to support operational processes, and IT members, who frequently have the best understanding of how data is stored and moved within the enterprise. In our most successful engagements our steering committees have included both the CIO and business stakeholders, such as the CFO and CRO.

Data management is not all about “big data” and “the cloud”, although these trendy topics are by nature relevant. It is an all-encompassing discipline enabling business excellence through data excellence.  Emerging initiatives, such as big data analytics, must compete with the need to enhance the customer experience through the deployment of a new CRM application, to enhance operation al processes such as billing through the enhancement of the ERP platform, or to comply with requirements such as the PCI-DSS, King III or PoPI that have specific requirements for the management of information.

Like every other project and initiative in your business, each of these initiatives requires quality data in order to deliver on the business requirement. 

Ensuring this quality data has been our focus for nearly fifteen years – we understand how to do it and we understand how to apply appropriate technology to enable it. We understand how to get a data governance or MDM program off the ground and how to grow it incrementally in order to ensure it remains relevant and continues to deliver value.

Technologies and business needs may change, but data management remains. A strategic view can cut operational costs and significantly reduce risk. It is our goal to assist you to achieve this

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