The human side of data
A lot of the time people don’t know what they want until you show it them
– Steve Jobs –
Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of why you want to gather, manage and govern data. It’s often linked to business value, and rightly so. But that’s not the real why. Instead, consider this. The data you capture and govern should, in some small way, improve the lives of your customers. Otherwise, why capture it at all? The why is about people. It’s about the customers you serve. It’s the end-users of the products and services your business creates. The why is being able to offer your customers the products and services they want, wherever and whenever they want. Understanding the why of your data management ambition, and its impact on your customers, is important, no, it’s essential in underpinning the business case for data projects. Solve the challenge of how to deliver it and you’re left with a business case that has a better chance of securing budget.
One valid argument in your data business case is that mastering data gives you the insight needed to predict what consumers of your product and services might want. Or what they themselves might not have thought they needed. It allows you to present more information to your audience. And as they become more informed, they become more aware and more likely to buy. Data and consumerism work hand in hand. Which is why when you think about any data project you must first consider what the value is to the consumer. Product sustainability is a topic of increasing value. Knowing where things are being produced and the impact it has with the natural world is a hot topic. So providing more information about where products come from addresses concerns about buying the end product by detailing its production journey. The challenge is telling consumers about it in a way that makes sense. For example, knowing a product is made of ecovero may not mean a great deal, but if you can inform consumers that it means it’s a sustainably sourced viscose, then you’re telling them something that inspires a buying decision.
Providing people with more information enables them to make informed decisions. But the information has to be meaningful to them. There’s information you might need to provide to remain compliant such as the safety warnings on children’s nightwear. But then there’s information of more interest such as the fabric used, size and country of origin. Getting the balance of information right is important. Put too much information across and you could overload the consumer, so it has to be relevant and help with decision making. In the end, it’s the availability of data that determines what information you can provide.
The information you’re going to communicate, when, and where are also important points to consider. For this data helps you understand the customer journey and so anticipate the need of each person. You should be able to place the right information in the right form, in the right channel, at the right time. This requires the ability to take data from your core systems and transform it into a presentable and readable format. The goal for you is to understand not what somebody wants but why they want it. Your audience then feels that the information presented is in response to what they need at that time. The difficulty comes when you put in place new business processes to support the customer journey. Take AI for example. AI must learn not how to react to particular wants but react to why’s as well. This provides many data challenges. And getting your data foundation right is important to support this future in data management.