What are the key elements in implementing a Data Strategy?

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What are the key elements in implementing a Data Strategy?

Over the past 20 years, data has become much, much more important. These days, data is even considered an asset rather than a by-product of an application. That is why organisations need to develop data strategies that correspond to today’s reality. In this blog post, we describe what we mean by Data Strategy and identify the five components of a solid Data Strategy.

What is Data Strategy?

Data Strategy describes a “series of choices and decisions that together define a high-level action to achieve high-level goals.” This strategy includes business plans to use information to gain a competitive edge and to support organisational objectives. (DAMA International, 2018) A Data Strategy requires a thorough understanding of the data needs that are inherent to the business strategy (Knight, 2017). It is vitally important to improve how data is collected, stored, managed, shared and used. Data Strategy requires commonly used methods and formalised processes that are defined as essential for shared management of business information.

The five components of Data Strategy

A solid Data Strategy consists of the following five components:
1. Identification;
2. Storage;
3. Distribution;
4. Integration;
5. Governance.

1. Identification

Identifying data and establishing its significance and usability (regardless of location, typology and source) is an essential condition for a good Data Strategy. After all, it is impossible to process and use data if the data does not have a name, is not in a specific format, and has not been assigned any value. When an organisation does not describe data and metadata, it is as if information is being ignored, because people would prefer not to know it. If data is actually considered an asset, then the Data Strategy should guarantee that all data can be identified and described.

2. Storage

Secure data archiving is a crucial activity, without a doubt. In general, choices regarding archiving technologies are more focused on the storage of data as a purpose all unto itself. This approach does not address the ability to easily share and transfer data between systems. In many cases, there is no plan for data sharing and transfer. A good Data Strategy ensures that once data has been created, it is easily accessible and can be shared by everyone, without anyone else having to make their own copies.

3. Distribution

In the past, solitary applications were used for data storage and use, but today data is used by many different systems to support business processes and management decisions. Data sharing is no longer a specialised technical feature which is left to the whims of application developers. It has become a business need and should be dealt with accordingly.

4. Integration

Data integration is much more than the traditional Data Warehouse approach. It includes all data (structured and unstructured) and all data movements between various applications. Within most organisations, data integration is not a central function. Each development team uses its own logics to link data to various applications. The only priority is the needs of the specific client. Since theseteams are working on separate tracks, they also fail to achieve synergy and reap the resulting benefits. A good data integration strategy ensures that data is cleaned up and merged into a final data set that can be used by everyone in a consistent and repeatable way.

5. Governance

Defining, applying and communicating rules for data use results in better data management. This is especially important when the amount of information to manage and share is growing. Policies and rules need to be formalised, roles and tasks need to be determined, and methods need to be implemented, in order to guarantee data quality and security.

A properly defined Data Strategy helps an organisation address its current and future ‘business needs’ in a more structured way as it grows and evolves, thus safeguarding its success.

Are you curious to see what a successful implementation of a Data Governance strategy could mean for your organisation? Or are you in the process of implementing Data Governance, and would you like to have a sounding board? Then contact our Data Management Team; they will be happy to help you on your way.

Jacco Oudeman

References consulted for this post:
DAMA International (2018)
Knight, M. (2017), What is Data Strategy
Levy, E. (2018), The 5 Essential Components of a Data Strategy