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What makes a successful data strategy?

Data is the new oil. We now live in a data economy; it is central to the business models of the world’s most valuable companies. However, like oil, raw, unstructured, data is not necessarily valuable in itself, but only when properly applied. Ninety-five percent of businesses need to manage unstructured data, over 40 percent must do so on a frequent basis. Data can be the key to greater success but without a successful data strategy it is all too easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data being generated today.

What is a data strategy?

A data strategy refers to how you plan to gather, develop and implement the data you collect as well as how this informs your overall business strategy. While data may not be as integral to your business as, say, Google or Amazon, it can still offer a massive strategic advantage compared to that of your competitors. 1.145 trillion megabytes of data is collected everyday but less than 0.5 percent is ever analysed. If you know where to find and gather data that’s relevant to you, you have the opportunity to explore patterns and figures that can help optimise your overall strategy.

What makes a data strategy successful?

As discussed above, aligning your data strategy with your business strategy is integral to the success of both. Without a direction to funnel it, data can become bloated and difficult to navigate. For some companies this does still mean constructing a vast database that allows you cross-reference great swathes of data, but for others it means hyper focusing on data most immediately relevant to the ends of their business.

There’s also the question of how you want to use the data you collect. This depends on how sensitive the data is as well as the extent to which you need to respond to shifts in the market. Healthcare, for example, handles a lot of confidential information and it's important for the sake of their client’s safety that it’s kept securely and in-house. For retail, on the other hand, the use of data is much more strategic, and is leveraged to take advantage of consumer habits and market changes. The finance sector strikes somewhat of a balance between these two, as it must respond to the market while keeping data confidential.

What do I need to implement a successful data strategy?

As the sheer volume of data gathered grows more and more each day, it's important to have hardware that’s up to the challenge. It’s useless to have a cohesive data strategy without hardware that can handle the complexities of gathering, storing and implementing data. This is true even for a streamlined and focused approach, since there’s a significant gap between what you can obtain and how much of it is actually relevant and usable. Despite this, you don’t need to feel pressured into upgrading every six months or anything to that extent, just make sure your hardware can keep up with what’s demanded of it and can stay ahead.

Data strategy is becoming a more important part of business strategy as different industries digitise so it’s important to keep up. It might be a difficult thing to get your head around, but hopefully this blog is enough to get you started.

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