Developing Your Data Strategy: What It Is & Why You Need One

Published January 9, 2015


As we go deeper into the era of dealing with big data, and companies invest ever larger sums in data management and analytics capabilities and technologies, more companies are taking a step back and asking about the underlying strategy.

Specifically, these companies are considering developing a data strategy – or already have one in place.

What It Means to Have a Data Strategy in Place

Fundamentally, having a data strategy means having an answer to questions like:

  • “Why do we collect all this data?”
  • “What are we going to do with all this data?”
  • “How do we extract the most value from our data?”

The answers to these questions vary by industry, organization and job function.

Set Business Priorities

Priority one might be understanding and segmenting customers with more precision. Or it could be about becoming more predictive and targeted in designing products to meet customer needs, making relevant offers to the right customers or even identifying potential supply chain bottlenecks.

Perhaps the common thread is in setting priorities for investment and action. The key is to think of data and information as an asset – much like capital or people.

Companies think carefully about how they will invest in equipment, handle revenue and structure their finances for tax purposes. They think about the types of people they will hire – the skills they want to invest in and the personalities who will succeed in their cultures. So it’s commonplace for companies to have strategies for managing finances and people. Companies that understand data’s value will also create strategies for managing it.

Use Data to Solve Business Challenges

Data strategies take shape by thinking about data as an asset like human or financial capital. How can we use data to solve specific business problems? What infrastructure or technology is needed so that we can most effectively utilize our data to seize opportunities?

Bringing that strategy to life, or executing against it, will involve overcoming issues like data quality and security, access and retention, and making sure you have the right team and tools in place to deal with your data.

With a clear strategic plan and a foundation of people, process and technology, you can begin to use data more creatively and more confidently, enabling you to make better business decisions and generate more value from data.

Now that you know what a data strategy is and what having one in place can do for your company, review these seven signs that your company needs to implement one.

Are you ready to get more value out of your data?