5 things Business Execs Need to Know About Data

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Need to Know About Data

Whether you’re a CFO, CMO, Head of Sales, Risk, Compliance, Human Resources, having the right data in your business applications is critical for success.  Unfortunately, most business executives are often shielded from what really goes on under the cover, where all that data comes from, how it gets transformed, cleansed, and delivered into your CRM, SFA, HR, or Accounting systems that get used to create those reports, charts, and/or dashboards used to make day to day business decisions.

Here are 5 things every business executive should know about their data to help appreciate, more importantly ensure the right investments are being made to avoid unwanted headaches, costs, and risk of disaster.

  1. Don’t blame your business apps when your data is wrong: If the data in your business applications is missing, out of date, or incorrect, business users will blame their applications first. Data errors often originate when end users enter invalid information into their business applications.  In other situations, data becomes corrupt when it is shared and converted between systems across the enterprise.  The reality is 9 out of 10 times  it is not the fault of the application but how data is integrated into it by IT through manual coding or use of one off tools.
  2. Poor data quality is expensive….very expensive: How expensive? Well, according to industry analysts, poor data quality costs organizations upwards of 30% of gross revenue. Gartner stated that poor data quality is a primary reason for 40% of all business initiatives failing to achieve their targeted benefits. Poor data quality effects overall labor productivity by as much as a 20%.
  3. It’s not the size of your data that matters; it’s how you use it: We’ve all heard about Big Data these days and quite honestly, the term has become confusing. Let me break it down for you non-data business folks.  Having the right data fuels business success. In today’s digital, social, mobile, and the Internet of Things world, data of varying types is being created more than ever each and every second.  Nowadays, people talk about zetabytes vs. petabytes of data.  The insights and intelligence from all this data can be powerful however  business intelligence, data visualization, and analytic applications alone are not designed to handle the complex requirements of transforming and addressing data errors. That requires additional investment in proper data management technology including data integration and data quality to do it right.
  4. Protecting the perimeter is not enough to guard against unwanted data breaches  According to a 2014 Ponemon Report, the average cost of a single corporate data breach is approximately $7.1M. Now, we’ve all seen the headlines from Target to Sony. Most of the investments to protect against an unwanted data breach starts with network security solutions. These are important to have however once the criminals get into your networks, the data you seek to protect is often left exposed.  Unfortunately, it’s often a mystery where sensitive data is throughout the enterprise due to the proliferation of that data across systems and applications over the years.
  5. Business, not IT owns data in the enterprise: That is correct. Data is a business asset similar to other business assets including people, money, or real estate. Business organizations dictate what data they need and why they need it. IT organizations are responsible for delivering that data to the business, not the other way around. Therefore, business organizations starting at the top must be prepared to own the data agenda and participate, more importantly, lead the data governance conversations. Organizations that attempt to govern their data purely through IT organizations will find themselves falling behind competitors who have made this cultural shift and the proper investments to ensure IT can deliver the data business needs.

So where do you start?

  1. Firstly, engage with your IT organizations. Understand how they do what they are asked to do. Ongoing budget cuts and resource shortages in IT often lead to making due with what they have and in many cases, that results in using tools to integrate and govern data through one-off tools or throwing bodies at the problem.
  2. Talk to your data and information security groups to understand how sensitive data is protected to protect it from unwanted breaches.  What’s being done to secure sensitive data in existing business applications and databases? Do they know where all that sensitive data is?
  3. Invest in proven data management solutions to ensure IT can deliver the data business needs to succeed. Don’t assume your business applications or business staff can do it alone. Ensuring access to good data requires purpose built tools combined with best practices, collaboration between IT and Business, and agreed upon policies to govern data in the enterprise as a business asset.
  4. Finally, take ownership of your data assets. This doesn’t mean business groups become shadow IT. Instead, ensure that IT understands why you need the data you’re asking for, how it impacts the business, and define data stewards in the business to govern your data with IT, not the other way around.

To learn more about these topics, take a look at some of the following tools and articles from Informatica to help you get ready!