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Business transformation and the continual growth in the digital economy are generating an overwhelming amount of data; and the need for increased productivity due to workforce shortages in most verticals makes the speedy accessing, generating, and processing of business information more important than ever.

Data analysis has traditionally provided the intelligence and insight needed for informed decision making; and whilst this still applies, there’s a shift in emphasis from Business Intelligence (BI) to Artificial Intelligence (AI) led thinking, as organisations of all types look towards technology for the solutions.

Talent shortages are having an impact across a number of areas including customer service, sales development and the generation of incremental revenue, supply chain management, stock control, competitor intelligence, and public services – and a data strategy is the solution enabler for all these challenges.

Data - the new enabler

Research by Gartner and Forbes found that organisations with a data strategy are more likely to be successful in digital transformation initiatives, and by utilising their data, they improve workforce productivity, make better decisions, and gain competitive advantage.

It should also be noted that companies without a data strategy are more likely to struggle with operational efficiency, data quality, governance, and security. Poorly stored data can lead to ineffective customer support, weak decision making, and sub-optimal protection that leaves organisations vulnerable to security breaches.

What is a data strategy?

Put simply, a data strategy is a time defined plan or roadmap that identifies the technology, systems, human resources, and compliance needed to manage a company’s IT and operations. All organisations collect large amounts of data, but using that data to boost productivity and make better decisions requires a data strategy that defines a process for managing, storing, and using that data effectively to improve all aspects of the business in the short and long terms.

A data strategy helps organisations to become both competitive and innovative in a world of relentless change. Using and acting on the trends and behaviours identified in business data will drive operational efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, enable speedier decision making, and improve bottom line performance. Aligning IT processes and data management with business strategy keeps organisations relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing digital economy.

Managing data

Legacy systems and digital transformation to cloud services mean most organisations experience challenges as data is stored in different places - leading to inefficient information sharing between departments, and uncertainty around data policies. A data strategy allows companies to formalise the way they work with their IT, making information accessible and unlocking its value to support business initiatives.

Innovate and improve customer experience

Data can be used to anticipate market trends and business needs, leading to improved experiences for customers and the workforce. Omni-channel customer service caters for people at all levels of digital competence - from call handling through to self-service portals, all of which generate and capture valuable experiential data. This empowers companies to create more value for customers by improving areas of dissatisfaction, and creating new opportunities through products and services based on identified customer needs.

A data led culture

Data strategies don’t have to be complicated, and they work best in a modular or iterative format that starts with the identification of operational and customer focused business needs. A roadmap to data efficiency and literacy will galvanise teams to work collaboratively - enhancing data quality and shaping business decisions.

Effective data strategies improve security by controlling and minimising access to core business information. Data governance, compliance, policies, rules and regulations are defined in the process, ensuring the privacy, security, and integrity of all data.

Time for action

A data strategy will therefore underpin all elements of business planning as organisations seek to identify and optimise technologies and IT services to continuously improve productivity and efficiency.

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