Data is the new reality of the current age. As the Covid-19 pandemic clutched all businesses under its tight grip, there has been a drastic change in communication and decision-making. The role of data in organizational decision-making increased by leaps and bounds. Though data and analytics have always been critical to a company’s success, the pandemic drove everyone to step up their data efforts, functioning as a sort of wake-up call.
Unanticipated business challenges that cropped up overnight needed to be addressed instantly, and only those with a data-driven approach were able to change their gears prudently in such unprecedented times. Such data-driven decision processes are based on insightful evidence rather than intuitions. Others that were devoid of data-powered intelligence lost their grip amid this havoc. Perhaps, some are in the process of rejigging their strategies, trying to make proactive use of them for decision-making.
According to a report by Forbes, a massive amount of data has been generated in the past decade, growing from 1.2 trillion gigabytes to 59 trillion gigabytes. However, only some are able to make good use of this pool of wealth, while others fail to tap into its potential. This is what differentiates one business from another in the current hyper-competitive era.
This article summarizes some current challenges and solutions for businesses as they look to become data-centric.
Despite the benefits of moving forward with data-driven decision-making, it’s much easier said than done. Although many large enterprises have already taken the plunge and are harnessing the power of data to make smarter decisions, there are many who are still way behind. Their laggard approach toward data can be attributed to a host of factors.
• Lack of data-driven culture – Fearing change is not uncommon. As the risk of successfully leveraging modern data structures always looms, various organizations’ management often hesitates in employing data and analytics. This mentality of rigid bureaucracy and a conventional attitude can prevent some businesses from widening their perspective, limiting the adoption of data analytics tools.
• Inaccessible and siloed data – Business organizations generate massive amounts of data growing in volume and variety, and most of them are typically unstructured and spread across various sources. The underlying problem for many organizations is that their data remains in silos, thus limiting access to all stakeholders — which eventually becomes a bottleneck to leverage the value of the data.
• Limitations of legacy systems to cope with the new data-driven culture – Even if organizations believe in harnessing the data to make critical decisions, they might not know how to go about it or what tools to use for their analytics. They lack a scalable solution to analyze and visualize complex data as it grows.
• Budget constraints – The additional cost of employing data and analytics can hold numerous businesses from adopting analytics tools. Organizations might fail to understand that an appropriate data management strategy can reduce the overhead costs of various complex data infrastructures, help measure the ROI and understand the customer better, thereby proving its benefits and showing how it translates into the organization’s revenue and performance.
The above challenges can definitely hinder a business’s journey toward effective decision-making and growth. Below is a checklist that organizations can follow as they look to become data-centric.
• Creating a data-driven culture – Fuel a data-driven culture from the top management, and allow it to trickle down toward the bottom. Business decisions should be tied back to the data to ensure you are not making decisions based on beliefs, past experiences or any conscious or unconscious bias. Organizations should introduce and execute the data-driven changes in smaller, step-by-step phases and have data governance teams in place to conduct compliance audits. Also, the identification of the right sets of data to support specific business decisions is exceptionally critical.
• Building a single repository of data – Centralizing the data in one place can help organizations deal with exponential data growth and provide them with relevant data points. This is where data lakes and other business intelligence solutions come in, giving the organizations control over their data. Data lakes help them to curate clean and structured data and manage storage, while business intelligence solutions can drive analytics quickly. This can also allow organizations to identify the correct data for a particular business decision to yield the desired results.
• Leveraging modern technologies – As the volume of data increases, it becomes difficult for organizations to consume it and convert it into actionable insights. Using machine learning for data analytics can be an effective way to maximize the potential of the data. ML can automate repetitive tasks, process data in real time, reduce human intervention and produce accurate results, enabling organizations to focus on their growth.
• Budget allocation – Allocate a special budget for undertaking crucial data initiatives. Special budget allocation can ensure its proper implementation across different levels and simplify things, translating to cost savings. Data analytics and ML can provide a one-stop solution for all the data needs of an organization and empower all stakeholders to work with data.
Needless to say, having strong data practices in place is a quintessential requirement for new-age, modern businesses. We are in the midst of rapidly advancing times, and the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the adoption of data and analytics to generate powerful insights. Businesses must think and act intelligently and latch onto this new way of decision-making that would provide them with a significant competitive edge post-Covid-19.
About the Author
An IIT-Delhi alumnus, Deepak is the CEO at TO THE NEW where he leads the development and execution of long-term business strategies. Over the past decade, he has led many strategic initiatives that have had a positive impact on multiple business areas, driving down costs, increasing revenue, and improving the overall performance of the organization.
He spearheads the creation and execution of the overall business strategy for TO THE NEW; and loves being close to technology & action. He is actively involved in technology and delivery related aspects of TO THE NEW. Under his leadership, the company has witnessed tremendous growth with an impressive geographical expansion. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing companies in the space with an annual CAGR of around 60%.