Reliable source

INN8 chief financial officer Jacques de Kock provides insight on transforming a company’s strategy through good business data

The power of good-quality, reliable data is widely understood and valued. However, it remains a rather elusive objective for many organisations. Inaccurate and poor data impacts every aspect of your business, from customer experience to your bottom line. On the flip side, good, reliable data empowers every aspect of your business, from planning, operational effectiveness to micro-targeting your value proposition.

Unfortunately, however, too often organisations do not have a clear strategy and plan in place to gather, validate and effectively use the volumes of data available to them.

A data-driven culture
As with any successful organisational strategy, a data culture starts with the leadership’s encouragement of data analytics and understanding and pursuing the need for data exploration across the entire business to drive operational efficiencies and competitive advantage. Data is no longer the domain of IT or finance alone. Understanding how your clients engage with your business and your product or service provides powerful insights into effective designing your user experience. It helps refine your marketing message and content targeting.

Internally, mapping employee engagement deepens your understanding of organisational dynamics and in this increasingly remote and digitally driven operating environment – where face-to-face human connection is becoming increasingly rare – behaviour-driven engagement data provides invaluable insight into your team mindset and real operational needs. Data insight is not just about operational optimisation – it is also a key to helping nurture a culture in an increasingly detached working environment.

De Kock 
INN8 chief financial officer

Data integrity
It seems obvious, yet very few organisations – large or small – approach data management strategically. This often means its collection is an afterthought, leading to poor and inaccurate data. There are numerous reasons that may contribute to the degradation of data quality. Special consideration must therefore be given to the landscape you define as a foundation for your data.

It’s important to manage the entire data life cycle: from the moment data is created or collected to how it’s securely stored, maintained, accessed and, ultimately, destroyed. Validation and security are the cornerstone to ensuring your data is relevant and reliable, and that your clients and organisational confidentiality is always maintained.

Getting the architecture right
Data architecture is the basis for effective and efficient data management, and this becomes even more critical in large organisations with many system integrations and complex IT infrastructures.

This architecture ultimately provides a blueprint for the design of sustainable business processes and client journeys. You’ve probably heard the term ‘garbage in, garbage out’. The design of these different business journeys deserves careful analysis and the investment in a little more  restrictive data controls may pay dividends in the future.

Real-time access is critical
Data is meaningless without access to it. Many organisations sit on a treasure trove of data, with access restricted to a few data analysts. Providing appropriate data-reporting tools or programmes to business users not only assists in better decision-making but also contributes to addressing business risk in a proactive manner.

With the advent of connectivity and more flexible working environments, business users seek access at different times and from different locations. The incorporation of cloud solutions improves flexibility and sharing of data.

The security of data in today’s digital world is not only about safeguarding the privacy of your clients’ personal information in line with regulatory requirements but is also about protecting your organisation against reputational damage should data breaches occur.

There is an expectation from clients that you will protect their personal information; when they provide this information, it is based on trust. System security and appropriate training of staff to understand the importance of data privacy is paramount in the management of data.

As the adage goes, ‘time is money’ and this is even more true today in our fast-changing world. Business continuity is key, and so is access to the data that is needed to make business decisions. Data backup and recovery procedures play an important role to ensure business users can continue to get data on which they depend to make daily decisions.

Data integrity is underpinned by the completeness, accuracy, validity, consistency, and timeliness of data. Without ongoing data-maintenance procedures, your business data will become stale and ineffectual.

Architecture is crucial 
to effective and efficient data management

Data-driven decisions
Decision-making is at the core of any business and business leaders increasingly place reliance on data to reach their answers.

Based on good-quality data, leaders can predict outcomes with more certainty and reach decisions with conviction. Timely data imparts a sense of agility that provides decision-makers with an earlier opportunity to take advantage of market trends or changes. Risk versus return is a constant seesaw and with educated risk acceptance based on sound data, leaders can improve returns.

Data used in the operational environment can unlock many operational efficiencies that may contribute to significant cost reduction. A great example is the automation of resource intensive processes by defining business logic based on data characteristics.

With interactive data monitoring of client journeys, it can be a powerful tool in creating a superior and memorable client experience while differentiating your service offering from competitors and building customer loyalty.

With good data management practices comes increased productivity. Your company will be better organised making it easier for employees to find, understand, and relay information. The foundation to support meaningful data analysis and reporting in today’s data-driven world must be a cornerstone of your business to ensure your offering stays relevant. With insight driven by data – and aligned to a clear vision – comes the wisdom to act in a dynamic and ever-changing business landscape.

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