Data is Now an Organization’s Differentiator – and a Goldmine

It’s hard to argue against the proposition that operating as a data-driven organisation is no longer a choice but indeed a necessity. Businesses that ignore data will struggle to survive against their competitors which almost inevitably do take data seriously.

In fact, it could be argued that data is one of the strongest foundations based on which an enterprise can differentiate its performance from those of its competitors.

Technology is Ubiquitous, Data Differentiates

Any well-funded business can get access to bleeding-edge technology, developments such as cloud computing has removed barriers to access. Whereas cutting-edge tech used to imply high investment hurdles, today’s technology hardly requires any capital investment at all. If the tech is available to you, it is equally available to your competitor.

In contrast the data available to your business can substantially magnify the utility of cutting-edge tech. Furthermore, optimally using this data in creative, inventive ways can put your business ahead of competitors.

As much as relying on tried old methods will see your business through another day it is these inventive, novel uses of enterprise data that will push your business past its competitors. In fact, data may help you to dominate your field.

Data Drives the Digital Natives

You don’t need to look far to find examples of data-driven businesses dominating their respective fields. The so-called digital natives such as Uber and AirBnB are businesses that are driven predominantly by data and which have conquered their respective fields in large part due to the success they’ve had in harnessing this data.

Digital natives’ success with data is loud and clear. The fact that these companies run purely on data has enabled competitive advantages that were simply not on the map in the past. Data is in the DNA of a company such as Uber, allowing it to run rings around traditional competitors such as taxi-cab firms that rely on mere shreds of data to plan and deliver their services.

The Biggest Challenge with Data

Digital natives provide a strong rationale for treating data as a proverbial goldmine, but harnessing enterprise data Is not necessarily straight forward. One of the biggest problems organisation face when it comes to mining data is the fact that data is often siloed. That’s why an enterprise-wide data strategy is so important.

In contrast, a data silo leads to an analytical silo. If your enterprise does not adequately share data internally it will lose numerous opportunities to draw insights. Preventing silos from forming requires two important steps.

First, data storage should be centralised by means of integrated enterprise-wide data systems including ERP and CRM. Next, a collaborative culture will ensure that those in data-centric positions share significant datasets, methods and insights to the advantage of their colleagues. Only a comprehensive, agile approach to enterprise data will lead to maximum data insight.

Grab it All

What is the biggest lesson for enterprises? Yes, harnessing data in the first instance and avoiding siloed approaches are key to mining the value out of data. However perhaps the biggest lesson is this: don’t let any data escape.

Data that is never collected or lost can never be utilised. It is hard to predict what data you will need in future and newly harnessed data loses value where there is no history to refer to. The lesson: start your enterprise data strategy by mapping out data sources and collecting all but the most redundant data flows. It may be a goldmine.

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