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August 10, 2022
10 minutes read
Enterprise Program Leadership

Is Data Really The New Oil?

Many industry experts and popular business publications, such as The Economist, have asserted that data—not oil—has, in the past decade, become the world’s most valuable resource. Industry experts have thus coined the phrase “data economy” to denote the influence and financial prominence of big data in today’s society.

The idea that “data is the new oil” has to do with the similarities in how the two resources become valuable. Just like oil, raw data isn’t valuable in and of itself; rather, the value is created when it is gathered quickly, completely, and accurately, and connected to other relevant data. When properly refined, data quickly becomes a decision-making tool, providing insightful information that allows companies to react to market forces proactively and intentionally.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years, the value placed on quality data has exploded. The argument could be made that in today’s environment—that is, one riddled with economic turmoil, record-high inflation, and talks of a looming recession in the aftermath of a global pandemic—data is in a greater demand than ever before.

Why is Data So Valuable?

Through the height of the pandemic, organizations relied heavily on the latest COVID-19-related data to make difficult decisions about how to thrive and survive in a rapidly shifting marketplace. Organizations were forced to adapt their operations and embrace digitally-optimized business models at record speed. 

The result? The demand for accurate and up-to-date data, as well as methods of organizing data, went through the roof. In other words, we rest our case: Data is the new oil.

More Doesn’t Always Mean Better

What we saw with much of the COVID-born data organizations is that more data does not always equal better information. Government organizations and media outlets frequently reported on the numbers of COVID-19-related deaths, positive test results, hospitalizations, and tests administered. From this information, death rates, recovery rates, infection rates, hospitalization rates, etc. were created.

However, often due to testing and reporting limitations, not all positive cases were accounted for. In addition to that, not all organizations (or countries) follow the same reporting practices, meaning data is not documented in a standardized way. Therefore, while there may be an abundance of data, without ensuring that it is complete and accurate, that information may not be valuable in driving key decisions. Or worse, it may lead to the wrong decisions. Here at Kenway, we’ve seen the way bad data can cause roadblocks and play out negatively in numerous businesses over the years.

Data Management is More Important Than Ever

An organization’s ability to democratize its data and transform it into valuable insights is a crucial function with a value that cannot be overstated. 

Data-backed decision-making has a measurable positive impact on organizations, as a recent survey of C-suite executives from around the globe discovered that: 

“Companies that excel at integrating data into their strategy, operations and culture are largely outpacing their peers in revenue growth and profitability.”  

Data governance and data privacy work in tandem with data management practices to boost a company’s revenue. Data governance clearly defines policies, procedures, standards, processes, roles, and responsibilities that ensure the effective and efficient use of data in enabling organizations to achieve their goals. At its core, Data Governance defines who can take what action, upon what data, in what situations, and using what methods and also ensures that high-quality data is available across the organization.

But what are some other best practices when it comes to organizing and utilizing data in effective ways?

Data Maturity

Data maturity is a measure of an organization’s ability to utilize data to inform decisions. A data mature organization is one that can deploy its data effectively to achieve a range of goals. Oftentimes, this involves making data more easily accessible to different parts and teams of an organization.

Why is Data Maturity Important?

An organization that is data mature has the advantage of being able to identify opportunities in a timely manner that allows them to capitalize on them, as well as identify and react to threats before they materialize and become disastrous. In a dynamic market, opportunities abound. But if your organization isn’t poised to identify and react to these opportunities effectively, you may experience the frustration of identifying a window of opportunity only as it is closing. The regret of recognizing a missed opportunity only after it’s too late to act is a difficult one to stomach. 

In a data mature organization, this kind of regret is often avoided. By taking advantage of the power of predictive analytics, organizations can use their existing data to identify early and prepare for future opportunities. Data maturity also gives organizations the ability to anticipate potential threats, such as a quarter in the year during which sales are expected to decrease. This allows them more time to mitigate future issues. 

Take, for example, a Kenway client that was experiencing inefficiencies related to gathering, interpreting, and reporting basic performance metrics. This lack of visibility resulted in missed opportunities for cross-functional synergies, slow reaction times to changes in consumer buying trends, and an inability to track the success of marketing investments and new product features. 

By utilizing our Business Intelligence Solution the Kenway team experienced operational improvements and increased visibility for the IT cybersecurity provider that resulted in:

      • 94% time savings
      • 96% automation enhancement
      • 6x efficiency improvement 

We accomplished this by developing a strategically aligned business intelligence roadmap, creating a formalized reporting and analytics function, building and interpreting reports, and establishing sustainable value realization—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more, read the complete case study here.

Very advanced organizations may even get to the point in their data maturity journey where they make effective use of AI technology in data analysis, allowing for better data insights that can signal potential issues long before they would have naturally been discovered.

There is also an edge of competitive advantage granted to companies that have mature data practices in place. Leading organizations know that to differentiate themselves from their competitors, they must become the best solution on the market. To do this, some organizations have found ways to go beyond simply using data to improve their core operations and have ventured into creating entirely new and improved business models

Increasing Data Maturity to Keep Up with Demand

At this point, you may be asking yourself: 

“How can my organization focus its efforts to increase overall data maturity to respond to the current economic environment?” 

Kenway has significant experience in helping clients create that type of value by evaluating data maturity levels and subsequently delivering solutions in each of the assessed areas.

Achieving Greater Data Maturity with Kenway

A data maturity model is a tool used by companies looking to gauge the efficacy of their data maturity practices. While there are several different kinds of maturity models, they all do relatively the same thing: Measure your organization’s data governance initiatives and provide the means to effectively communicate them throughout the company.

The Data Maturity Model:

organizational maturity curve

This example of a data maturity model demonstrates four levels of organizational maturity. The x-axis represents the stages of maturity:

  1. Beginning Stage
  2. Advanced Novice Stage 
  3. Competent Stage
  4. Current Leader Stage

The y-axis represents the capabilities increase of an organization as it reaches maturity:

  1. In the first stage, there is limited to no IT Digital Maturity Structure in place.
  2. In the second stage, there is some realization as to the importance of IT Digital Maturity. This is where we begin to strategize with key business stakeholders. 
  3. In the third stage, IT begins working with the business to align its technology roadmap and strategy with the organization’s overall growth strategy. 
  4. In the fourth stage, IT is working fully in unison with the business. Key business stakeholders drive the tactical direction of IT’s strategic roadmap.

By implementing and executing on a cohesive, modern data strategy, organizations continue to mature their own IT Digital Maturity as its use of data becomes a key differentiator within the industry. 

Learn more about the Data Maturity Model here. >>

If your organization is missing the mark in some of those key areas, Kenway can help. Here are some examples of how our team has consistently assisted clients in achieving greater data maturity:

Multiple Source Data Capture

Organizations often struggle to connect their many sources of data. By identifying an exhaustive list of locations and qualities of our clients’ existing datasets, we can assist in bringing more powerful and holistic insights from previously disconnected information sources.

We can accomplish this through methods like ETL, ELT, and others. Bringing together multiple different data sources into one single source of truth is vitally important for businesses looking to optimize their ability to analyze their data. 

Read more about the different ways you can use ETL tools to integrate your data.

Reduce Effort to Insight

We can increase the impact of our clients’ analytics capabilities by shortening the time spent sorting through data to find what’s needed to make key decisions in an informed way. We accomplish this by creating dynamic and accessible visualizations of information.

Before we do this, organizations need to first identify where their data is derived, why it is being pulled from these sources, and establish how to begin breaking down the data silos found within the company. Once compiled into a single source, we’ll have a complete 360-degree view of a company’s data that can successfully be translated visually in order to paint the full picture—not just a small portion of it. 

Stakeholder Enablement

The Kenway team has experience developing custom training workshops aimed at efficiently moving end users up the adoption curve with new data-oriented technologies. In this way, we can readily improve your employees’ familiarity with tools and understanding of the underlying information enabling them to enhance their ability to leverage and analyze the data.

Intentional Data Efforts

We often help our clients move away from treating data like a by-product of doing business and, instead, make sure they treat it more like a resource through strategic data capture. We can assess and identify areas where additional or better, cleaner data can be captured via our Data Management and Data Governance services. We can also help clients realize the value of their data as a resource by identifying creative solutions to leverage this data.

If Data is the New Oil, Kenway Can Help Keep Things Running

Kenway is here to help businesses develop and maintain data maturity throughout their organizations with practical tools and methods that enhance their organization’s success. Helping our clients translate complex data into meaningful information gives them the ability to reduce costs and drive revenue in all climates. 

What’s more, our capabilities extend beyond summarizing and monitoring data. We help provide context and investigate data at a deeper level to drive actionable recommendations by:

      • Proactively defining and managing data as an organizational asset
      • Organizing data into easily consumable reports while emphasizing key data points
      • Interpreting and analyzing reports to extract meaningful insights
      • Implementing a data-driven, decision-making process to improve performance
      • Ensuring cultural adoption by developing and deploying methods and tools using change management principles and our knowledge of how the people in our client companies work

From Technology Solution Delivery like IT strategy and Salesforce custom development to Information Insight Capabilities like Data Governance and Business Intelligence, Kenway can help your company define and achieve its goals. Interested in learning more? Read about Kenway’s Information Insight Capabilities, or reach out to us here.

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