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Council Post: Jump Start Data Management Strategy with Minimum Viable Approach

Effective data delivery channels are essential for ensuring that data is relevant, accessible, and usable across the organization. By treating data as a valuable asset and establishing robust governance frameworks, businesses can maximize the utility of their data while maintaining compliance and security.

Small and mid-size organizations often face challenges in establishing a data management strategy that is both effective and relevant. This article will explore the fundamental aspects of data discovery, data ecosystem, data viewership, and data fitness, offering insights into how organizations can develop a focused data management strategy. Additionally, we will discuss the incremental value-added strategy necessary for achieving a data-driven organization, emphasizing the importance of senior management support.

MVP Approach: Minimum Viable Data Strategy

Understanding the Problem

Before implementing a data strategy, it’s crucial to define the problem and outcome clearly: Is the goal to seize a business growth opportunity or mitigate risks? Addressing this will help tailor the data strategy effectively. Small and mid-size organizations often struggle due to limited resources and need to prioritize initiatives that align closely with their core business objectives. For instance, many Small and mid-size organizations “SMOs” lack dedicated IT staff and skills, making it difficult to manage data lakes, warehouses, curated data products and integrate advanced analytics tools.

Three Key Efforts for MVP Data Strategy

Data Discovery:  Identify critical data essential for business growth, client satisfaction, risk mitigation, and regulatory compliance. This helps organizations understand what data is available and how it can be leveraged for business benefits. SMOs can start by focusing on key processes that directly impact business outcomes and building a catalog of data that supports these processes. For example, businesses can leverage AI to enhance data discovery and drive insights from customer data, leading to improved decision-making and operational efficiency​.

Data Accessibility: Ensure that data is easily accessible to users, whether through APIs, data feeds, or other integration mechanisms aka user friendly data delivery channels. This enhances user experience and enables efficient data utilization. Utilizing modern data platforms that offer self-service capabilities can significantly reduce the burden on IT departments and improve data accessibility for business users.

Data Quality: Maintain transparency and quality of data to support informed decision-making. High-quality data is vital for driving accurate and effective business decisions. Implementing robust data quality management practices, such as data validation, reconciliation, and enrichment, ensures that the data used for business processes is accurate and reliable. Establishing strong data governance policies can further enhance data quality and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Organized and Governed Data Delivery Channels

Effective data delivery channels are essential for ensuring that data is relevant, accessible, and usable across the organization. By treating data as a valuable asset and establishing robust governance frameworks, businesses can maximize the utility of their data while maintaining compliance and security.

The following representation provides a clear view of the process of managing data from its production to its final use:

  • Manufacturer: This stage represents the data-producing systems where raw data is generated.
  • Warehouse: Here, the data platform is where data is stored, curated and managed, including master data management to ensure data accuracy and consistency.
  • Showroom: This is the final stage where data is visualized and analyzed, like a showroom where finished products are displayed. This stage involves data product visualization and analytics.
  • Integration: This highlights the integration of master data management and data governance platforms, ensuring data quality and compliance.

By structuring data delivery channels in this way, organizations can ensure that data is effectively managed and utilized, supporting strategic decision-making and fostering a data-driven culture.

Key Components of MVP Data Strategy

Starting Small and Pressure Testing

Begin with small, manageable projects that have clear business outcomes. Focus on key processes and build a technology and business catalog to help users understand the data they are using and build trust in the data management system. This involves ensuring that stakeholders are actively involved and take ownership of the data. A practical approach is to start with a single department or business unit and expand gradually based on feedback and results.

Data Quality Management

Ensure data is relevant and fit for purpose. High-quality data is fundamental for leveraging advanced technologies like AI and ML. This involves ongoing efforts to validate, reconcile, and enrich data, ensuring its accuracy and usability across the organization. Implementing a data governance framework can help maintain data quality by defining clear policies and procedures for data management.

Organized and Governed Data Delivery Channels

Effective data delivery channels are essential for ensuring that data is relevant, accessible, and usable across the organization. By treating data as a valuable asset and establishing robust governance frameworks, businesses can maximize the utility of their data while maintaining compliance and security.

Data as an Asset

Treat data as a valuable asset and build data products on top of governed data. This involves following a product management lifecycle—ideation, prototype development, testing, market sensitivity testing, adjustments, and finally, go-to-market. This approach ensures continuous improvement and reusability of data products. For example, incorporating data visualization and analytics tools can help business users gain insights and make data-driven decisions more effectively​.

Data Storytelling

Use data insights to drive well-informed business decisions. Effective data storytelling helps highlight the importance of data in achieving business goals, whether for growth or risk mitigation. This approach ensures that data is not only collected and stored but also utilized to its full potential. Companies can use dashboards and data visualization tools to communicate insights and engage stakeholders.

A successful data management strategy requires a clear focus on the business outcomes or problems it aims to solve. Define critical success criteria and measure the outcomes of data strategies against these criteria. Promote fact-based storytelling to drive awareness and engagement within the organization. This approach can help lay the foundation for advanced data initiatives, such as AI and ML, ensuring they are built on a robust and reliable data management strategy.

By following these steps, small and mid-size organizations can develop a focused and effective data management strategy that supports business growth and risk mitigation while building a foundation for future technological advancements.

Data-Driven Pathways to Success

To achieve a razor-sharp focus on business outcomes, it is crucial to clearly define the problems that a centralized or federated data strategy aims to solve. Establishing critical success criteria at the outset will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your data strategy, processes, and implementations using an MVP-based approach tailored to your organization’s needs. I would also recommend promoting a culture of fact-based storytelling about successes in data management. This approach not only resonates with the business community, fostering awareness, transparency and engagement, but also strengthens partnerships that support business growth and risk mitigation. In my personal view, these strategies are essential for jumpstarting an AI/ML journey, where the foundational element remains “data,” complemented by a talent management strategy aligned with the organization’s resource capacity.

Picture of Vishal Patel
Vishal Patel
Vishal Patel is a Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Executive Managing Director at Webster Bank. With over 20 years of experience leading various data modernization programs and technology projects, he is skilled problem-solver committed to quality, negotiation, and persuasion and specializes in enterprise data and analytics management, cross-product data strategy, and development with the aim of implementing "Data as a Service" (DaaS) for Enterprise Data Product Platforms. His expertise also includes Master & Reference data strategy, enforcing data governance policies, standards, and establishing data quality management frameworks.
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