Core. Collaborate. Delegate. (Part 1 of 3)

By Elizabeth Albee

Is Your Enterprise Data Strategy Keeping Up with the Changing Digital Economy?

Pop quiz: A researcher—or maybe an analyst or a paralegal—approaches your department with 2 TB of data they need to house for immediate access. What do you do?

We’ve all been there. The options are often not pretty. House it inside? …On whose budget? Outsource it? …With what security guarantees? The solution is almost always more complicated than they expect. One thing is sure, though: if you don’t work with them, they will find a solution without you and their data will end up in an unmanaged silo certainly destined to eventually become part of your enterprise digital landfill.

The role of enterprise data strategy is to unlock the value of information for an enterprise. It’s the underpinning for a framework of capabilities that, when executed together, let a company acquire and maintain accurate, consistent data to meet their business requirements—and put roles, principles, and tools in place to increase the value of the information.

As a discipline, enterprise data strategy encompasses policy and governance, master data management, data and system architecture, security and access controls, lifecycle and archiving. That’s a lot of moving parts. The key to a successful enterprise data strategy is to not only protect the company’s interests but also to create business value through deliberate strategic alignment with corporate objectives.

For instance, the basic corporate mandate to increase shareholder value could drive a goal of better performance on strategic investments. We know better forecasting supports better investment decisions. What supports better forecasting? How about cleaner and more timely data? A good enterprise data strategy ensures that even the humblest data quality project aligns with strategic corporate goals such as investment, customer satisfaction, and operational improvement by providing measurable improvements in key business indicators – such as forecast accuracy, client churn, transaction costs, or cycle times.

So how can you ensure that your enterprise data strategy is aligned with your company’s best interests? And how can you make practical decisions in the moment that preserve your alignment while still meeting the immediate needs of the business?

Corporate strategic alignment can be obtained by following a 3-part mantra: Core. Collaborate. Delegate.

In this three-part series, we’ll look at these of each of these guideposts in turn, starting with the most essential: Core.

Core

Identify your central competencies—the things you can control that contribute to the strategic goals of your company.

Your core competency is the unique set of capabilities you have that deliver strategic value to your company and its customers.

Note that this concept is completely scalable. Executives and board members are responsible for making sure a company stays focused on its core value proposition. Directors and managers have a similar responsibility to understand their areas’ core value to the company and its customers, and to make sure that their teams or processes are actively contributing to the organization’s success.

Think about this question: “What do I (or we) do on a regular basis that contributes measurably to the overall success of the company?”

Think broadly: where do you see the effects of your work? What strategic aims does it support?

Think creatively: you’re not necessarily limited to your what you already do. What strategic aims could you impact, if you were able to?

Think practically and realistically: just because you can (or could) do something doesn’t mean you should. “Capability” means what you have the power to accomplish. If there are limitations on your capabilities, where are they coming from, and what would it take to remove them? If it’s too hard to remove them, then those capabilities are probably not part of your core competency.

It’s important to make sure that everything you define as part of your “core” contributes clearly to one or more strategic goals of the company. This will form the basis of your strategic corporate alignment. If a function or capability can’t be aligned, then it may be superfluous. If a particular activity or responsibility interferes with your ability to perform core functions, then it’s a good candidate for collaboration or delegation.

In the case of a strategically oriented enterprise data capability, the core competency might include

  • Policy — Principles for enterprise data governance
  • Processes — Guidelines for implementing policies so that actual use meets governance principles
  • Technology — Scalable tools to enable capabilities
  • Taxonomy/Dictionary — Standardization and enhancement of data descriptions
  • Metrics — Monitoring and measurement of performance/impact

Each of these elements meets some aspect of the strategic mandate for enterprise data to unlock and increase the value of information for an organization. And each can be aligned more or less directly with one or more key indicators of strategic business value.

In the next two articles in this series, we’ll move beyond the Core to look at the other two facets of establishing corporate alignment: Collaborate and Delegate.

About the author: Elizabeth Albee is a data and information strategist with a passion for driving companies toward success by harnessing information to power innovation. You can connect with Elizabeth on LinkedIn.

About Viewpointe (www.viewpointe.com)

Viewpointe delivers cloud-based managed services that streamline the information life-cycle and automate business processes with a foundation of compliance and information governance. Known for its time-proven expertise in information strategies and managed services, Viewpointe makes it possible to address today’s business opportunities and risks while planning for tomorrow’s challenges. Founded in 2000, Viewpointe has been named to the prestigious FinTech 100, representing the best in financial technology and service providers every year since 2006 and is the chosen partner to drive the power and promise of information governance at many of the world’s most esteemed companies.