Building a Data Strategy That ‘Plays Offense’

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    What is data to the company holding it? Sure, it’s a natural byproduct of doing business in most industries. But the most successful companies today are going beyond just storing data—they’re figuring out how to turn data into profit by using it to improve business outcomes in a measurable way.

    Beyond just stockpiling data and keeping it secure, monetizing data has become the goal for truly competitive companies. It’s time to start thinking of data as the valuable commodity it is.

    A New Goal: Data Monetization

    As MIT Sloan Management Review points out, one major way organizations are monetizing data is by using it to “improve internal business processes and decisions.” The idea here is that employees and leaders can use data insights to inform their actions, allowing them to eliminate inefficiencies and optimize revenue streams over time.

    Of course, this approach requires decision-makers to have ready access to business intelligence tools capable of helping them get these data insights in a timely manner, like search- and AI analytics from ThoughtSpot. Even the best, most game-changing insights will remain in obscurity if employees lack a way to uncover them. Self-service analytics arose to fill this need, allowing people to query data directly rather than having to ask gatekeepers to prepare reports for them.

    Long story short: Data monetization requires more than a way to hold onto data and create static reports based on past performance. The most effective data strategies today actually “play offense.”

    Data Strategy: Defense vs. Offense

    Think of soccer players on a field during a game. You’ve got your defense consisting of a goalkeeper and a handful of defenders. These players work to keep the other team from scoring, clearing the ball away from “the danger zone” whenever it gets near. Then you have your offensive players who bring the ball up the field, working together to hopefully score on their opponent’s goal. Successful teams have both working in tandem.

    For a long time, companies viewed data as a primarily defensive endeavor. Protecting data and making sure it complied with legal standards was the top priority. Defense means minimizing risk and fraud in the data world—something that’s very important in our current landscape rife with data breaches. It also means standardizing and governing over data sources, creating a solid foundation upon which to base data endeavors. But it’s not the only goal enterprising organizations should have regarding their data.

    As Harvard Business Review writes, data offense focuses on:

    • Supporting business objectives like increasing revenue, profitability and customer satisfaction
    • Generating customer insights
    • Supporting managerial decision-making through interactive dashboards

    Think of how a hospital would need to harness both defensive and offensive data strategies. To keep patient information safe from data breach while complying with strict industry-wise regulation, healthcare organizations need to establish a strong defense. Minimizing risk would be a major goal, as would establishing consistent data sources that point to one source of truth rather than drawing on disparate.

    But hospitals are also operating within a competitive industry. Healthcare organizations are facing the constant need to improve patient experiences while managing rising costs to operate. Here’s where an offensive data strategy helps hospitals identify opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce error, optimize staffing and improve their ratings. For instance, implementing self-service data analytics would allow clinicians and administrators to ask their own questions on the go so they could make decisions keeping pace with their demanding workflows.

    If your organization hasn’t already, it’s time to start building a data strategy that “plays offense” while still maintaining a strong defense against potential risks. If you can balance the two, you’ll reap the reward of being able to monetize your company data.


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