In the second part of our series examining how the speed of delivering solutions can overshadow proper strategic planning and long-term success, we examine the role of data and the journey it takes within an organization. The accuracy, protection, and use of data is critical for any technology implementation and our next question is a fundamental question which should be asked at the onset of any project.
Does your data have meaning and how will it be used?
Data is the lifeblood for which companies efficiently manage their customer relationships. However, challenges with data are common and data without meaning – information that cannot be used to make sound business decisions – is a common issue. These challenges result in inaccurate projections, such as sales forecasts, or poor customer experiences due to outdated information. Properly mapping out the data journey from collection to use can positively influence user experiences, customer relationships, and strategic decision making.
To minimize challenges with data, it is important to clearly define the “4 How’s” of the data journey:
1. How will it be used?
Clearly defining how data will be used is critical to any implementation. The definition of data can inform validation rules, automated business processes such as Flows, and help determine how the data will be analyzed in Dashboards or Reports. If data will not be used for decision-making, it is important to ask whether the data is truly needed. The collection of large amounts of that-would-be-good-to-know data, without clear definition of how it will be used, can create user and customer frustration due to long data collection processes.
2. How will it be collected?
Data collection methods may involve the use of technology or manual procedures. For each method of data collection, collection procedures must be well-defined to ensure the accuracy, relevancy, completeness, and timeliness of data can be utilized to inform business decisions. Proper relationships must be maintained, and data formatting must be consistent across all methods so it can be properly analyzed.
3. How will it be maintained?
Maintaining the reliability and trustworthiness of your data is an evergreen process. Companies routinely make data-driven business decisions and without properly maintained data, these decisions can lead to suboptimal results. Therefore, data integrity preservation methods must be defined to remove duplicate data, validate inputs, backup your data, and even keep audit logs of how key information has changed over time. Depending on the processes required, many of these methods can be automated.
4. How will it be protected?
Protecting your data is paramount to running a successful business. You must ensure processes and systems are in place to protect your intellectual property, customer data, and more. Data security tactics, such as access/permissions management, data classification, and threat detection, are critical components to protecting your data. The components must be defined, well-documented, and regularly reviewed to ensure data is being treated with the utmost care and you are compliant with applicable data protection laws.