The kitchen drawer of data
You know that drawer in your kitchen …
The one that started out as a store for the oddly shaped utensils, but then became a good place to put receipts.
And then it became the best place to put batteries too …
Oh, and those keys you found on the side that might be for the garage but you’re not 100% sure.
Slowly but surely, the drawer became a chaotic ‘other realm’. A place you daren’t delve into just in case there’s some kind of monster living there.
Let’s face it:
We’ve all got a drawer like this.
Despite our best efforts, often we can’t help but hoard things on some small scale.
The reason we do it seems sound.
We figure even though we don’t need the item today, we MIGHT need it in the future.
But we’re not sure when, or why …
So rather than finding a proper, more accessible home for it – we hide it away in the drawer.
Chances are we’ll never see it again.
But once in a while you do have a rare moment when you think:
Wait, it’s in that kitchen drawer!
And so, the hoarding continues.
The problem with data hoarding
You’ll know from experience no doubt …
We often treat data in the same way.
Whether it’s customer details or product information, sometimes – because we haven’t got the right data system or process – we find the nearest kitchen drawer and shove it in there.
Think of all those times you send a document or file back and forth with someone via email …
Each time you save a new version you’re adding to that kitchen drawer of data.
Or think to the customer who changes address but can’t remember their login details so rather than updating their profile, they create a new account.
While they start using a new account, their old account – with all its useful and insightful buying history – is relegated to the kitchen drawer of hoarded data.
It’s not ideal.
So, should we just delete all this hoarded data?
Of course not.
Sure, there are some items in that drawer – like the receipt for the jumper you bought your Mum five years ago – that you definitely could get rid of.
But at the same time, just as those flat round batteries at the back of the kitchen drawer might come in handy one of these days …
It might be that some of the data being hoarded is useful.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
The important thing, as you know, is to figure out which data could one day be useful and which most definitely isn’t.
Whether you’re the person looking after your companies’ data, or someone who has an interest in it, you have a responsibility, so this is where you come in.
But it’s not really your role to tell people what is and what isn’t useful data …
Your strength is in implementing or supporting the right policies and systems to avoid dumping data in the kitchen drawer.
The first step to reduce data hoarding
Today I want to take a moment to consider the very first thing you need to do.
And that’s to understand WHY people in your business find it easier to hoard data than store and manage it appropriately. Or why the processes used up until now have failed to help those people manage it effectively.
It’s impossible to build a good data system and accompanying practices that enables you to get value from your data unless you begin by considering the people dealing with the data and their motivation for managing it.
So, look at the current data processes and systems in place and keep an eye out for obstacles and hurdles that are causing problems with how the data is stored and managed.
Once you’ve identified where the problems are and why they’re happening, you can take steps to improve the process and more effectively manage your data.
Of course, you’ll likely never get rid of the drawer completely …
But you can find a better way to organise it.
If you want help finding a better way, our data and analytics experts can help.
Just fill in your details here and let’s have a chat.