3 Reasons Why Business People Should Take an Active Interest in Data Management

data management solutionsI work for a software company – one that sells data management solutions. For many business oriented people this is considered far too technical for their liking. My colleagues and I are regularly pointed down the hall towards the IT department, where business folks believe we can have a more meaningful discussion. However, the importance of data is rising in all verticals. To remain competitive, organizations must harness their existing and new data sources in meaningful ways. By removing themselves from all data management decisions, business people are giving up a valuable opportunity to influence how and when they receive the data vital for their operations.

When your day is filled with supply chain efficiency requirements, sales targets, marketing events or cost reduction targets I confess that something labelled as ‘data management’ may seem like somebody else’s job. But that is only a partial truth.

Data management is increasingly everyone’s job.

To understand why this is so, it is important to understand what people mean when they talk about data management. DAMA (The Data Management Association International) has the following definition: “Data management is the development, execution and supervision of plans, policies, programs and practices that control, protect, deliver and enhance the value of data and information assets.” Still not sounding overly attractive to people outside the IT world – but at least it should make it clear that there is far more to data management than integration. Business people should not opt out of helping define data policies, identifying data that needs protection, or how data will be delivered in the future. By doing so, they surrender any influence over how they will access their data assets in the future.

For many years, business people have recognised data as a valuable asset, but shied away from actively participating in data management. Unlike other assets, data is not the responsibility of one department. It is created in multiple places and used in just as many. This makes it harder to ask one department (normally IT) to take full responsibility for managing data.

My top 3 reasons why people with a business function should begin to take an active interest in data management are as follows:

1. Data management is a team sport

The most successful sports teams have a diversity of skills within the team. Similarly, successful data management requires numerous skills. Business people must help identify the most valuable, or sensitive, data that would benefit most from active management. People in business roles are also the best judge of data quality within specific contexts and must define the service level required for data delivery to various processes. Yes, it will be the IT people who will finally ensure the data is delivered, cleansed, protected and ultimately archived according to rules and policies. However, to leave them to write these policies and rules alone would risk misunderstanding what the business requires from data.

2. The business is a direct benefactor of high quality data

Informatica customers Sanofi Avensis and the Cancer Council of New South Wales are among the many who demonstrate that high quality data directly contributes to improving business KPIs. If you think about it, most IT systems and analytics algorithms would happily run without high quality data – but what would be the purpose? Systems and algorithms fuelled by poor data produce inaccurate results, leading to rework or poor decision making. By becoming involved in data management, the business people can directly contribute to the quality and availability of the data which is required by all IT systems.

3. Your organization’s future may depend on sound data management practices

Our lives and our country’s economies are becoming increasingly digital. Of course, behind this digital transformation is data – all digital products and services both consume and produce data. Already we can see organizations with the ability to rapidly deliver insight and innovation from their data are leading in both market share and the stock market. Without sound data management, data assets may not be available in the correct format at a large enough scale to support your current or future (digital) business needs.

Hopefully these 3 reasons are enough for business people to become involved with data management activities. But why then should you be interested in data management tools? Surely the execution part is for the IT people to decide?

Yes – IT people have a large role to play in selecting data management tools and technologies. However, leading data management tools can help break down the barriers between the technical and business-oriented tasks. For example, Informatica is constantly looking at ways to make data management more efficient – and this involves enabling the two key stakeholders, business and IT, to collaborate towards common goals. The nature of data management and its requirement that the business contributes to the practice, means that at some level they will need to interact with the data management tools and solutions that their organization implements.

Business people would not hesitate to be involved with selecting a new IT solution to support their business processes. So why should the attitude to data management solutions be different? The selection of data management tools and solutions will directly impact the availability of data for all IT systems that aid the execution, reporting or analysis of business processes.

By not playing an active role in data management and the technology that enables it, business people are opting out of influencing the direction of their future – one which is increasingly driven by data.