We’ve all heard what has now become a truism in business- that data is an enormous source of value in today’s economy.  With complexity, comes data and with data, comes complexity.  To harness, simplify, digest, and act on this exponentially growing asset, organizations need to make the right investments and to do so now.

At the outset, leaders have to determine the extent to which they really believe in the notion that data will drive economic growth and comparative advantage.  Outside of a firm belief in this “data religion” it is unlikely that the requisite investments will be made.  Related to this is another often-overlooked area:  Great leaders must understand that their own tenure is limited so they have to enshrine the investment in data into the institutional fabric of the organization and not attach it to one “hero” actor. 

Second, they have to get employees aboard with the adoption of data-culture.  As we know, there are no “silver bullets” in the business world, no spells the mere incantation of which will produce exceptional results.  They have to build- however slowly- a culture of using data to make decisions while ensuring that we avoid the culture of analysis-paralysis.

Third, leaders have to invest in the right data-infrastructure.  Full stop.  This has to be done or even the best plans will be laid to waste.

What are the aspects of this infrastructure? 

  1. There is enormous wealth stored in existing corporate systems.  A mature Data Infrastructure has to allow decision-makers to avail of the data already within “the four walls” of the organization.
  2. A mature data infrastructure must be able to absorb and assimilate all manner of new data sources in an automated fashion.  Instead of vectoring every request through an already overburdened IT Department, the organization needs to allow a variety of relevant roles to add new data sources to their consideration set.
  3. The right data infrastructure must easily provide comprehensive, contextual, timely and actionable data to decision-makers at all levels of the organization.
  4. The Four Horsemen have to be taken care of:  Security, Privacy, Governance, and Compliance. 
  5. A mature data infrastructure must be architected in such a way that continuous change is made possible.  Put simply, a mature data infrastructure is not a “one and done” proposition.
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When this is put in place- and we acknowledge that for large organizations this can require millions of dollars—a data culture can be formulated and inculcated.  Without a mature data infrastructure, any notion of a data culture is loose-talk since employees will call the bluff.

We are sure that over the next 2 years, any organization of appreciable size will invest in a mature data infrastructure, lest they be left by the wayside.  With the advent of AI and the exponentially increasing power of computation, the possibilities are endless but the investments – in mindset and infrastructure- have to be made and made carefully.

Written mutually by Romi Mahajan & Dharmesh Godha.