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Intro

Michael Lonnon

Welcome everyone to the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I’m your host Michael Lonnon, and today I’m joined by Solution Specialist, data aficionado, MVP, and board game loving Laura Graham-Brown.

Laura is a passionate advocate for the good management of data because of the untapped value it contains. So I spent ten minutes with Laura picking her brains on where to start when it comes to defining a data strategy.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon

Most companies will understand the value and importance of data, but I don’t think that many are doing it particularly well would you agree?

Laura Graham-Brown

Far too many companies have far too many copies of their data, so there’s different versions so they took the extract on Monday, then on Tuesday and then they tweaked that column. Everyone’s got what they think is their version but it’s not the version.

Michael Lonnon

What’s the problem that creates?

Laura Graham-Brown

In very simple terms, the data doesn’t stay clean so people who are adding their manual data means nobody else can replicate it.

Michael Lonnon

What would solve that sort of challenge? It gets worse as businesses grow, acquire, and have systems that don’t talk to each other with different people doing different things in different ways. Defining a data strategy or set data governance parameters, is that your starting point, if you really want to start getting on top of how its managed?

Laura Graham-Brown

Yes, you need that data set but one of the key things to have is somebody own it, have responsibility for it and at a really high level. Somebody at director or board level.

Michael Lonnon

This is even if its other people implementing the strategy?

Laura Graham-Brown

You need a stakeholder at a high level to give data the importance it needs. You need that buy in from a good high level to turn around and say yes this is important. If you’ve got that person that top saying this is important, then you actually have the basis to define a data strategy and have a chance of doing it but you need somebody who’s going to say yes, you can do that.

Michael Lonnon

So, you’ve got a stakeholder who has bought into your idea of the data strategy, however it is you that has put the strategy together. What sort of things might go into a data strategy?

Laura Graham-Brown

Understanding the whole data ecosystem, the different data elements across the business, the places they’re coming from and understanding what the business needs from that data? Also understanding what we can know from this data, what governance is there, what restrictions have we got on there. Thinking what’s your protection on your data being kept and to make sure that the wrong data doesn’t go to the wrong places. Actually, one of the really key things is what can we do with our data and what would benefit our business. Data is worth so much money for a business, it’s priceless

Michael Lonnon

It goes back to the stakeholder agreement and why they’ve agreed to your strategy in the first place and that is because it’s going to tie into this business objective and help you achieve these goals.

Laura Graham-Brown

Yes, and you need data on your data. You need to understand how good and clean your data is and what’s in your data.

Michael Lonnon

As part of putting your strategy together one of the steps is to look at what already exists why it is being collected and what you are doing with it?

Laura Graham-Brown

Yes, and who already owns data within your organisation and even if they’re not officially data owners, there will be people out there who see themselves as data owners. The need to understand what they’ve got, and what the protocols are.

Michael Lonnon

I’ve heard the role of the CDO and the head of data is one of the most political in business.

Laura Graham-Brown

Yes, and the bigger the organisation, the more difficult it is.

Michael Lonnon

How do you overcome that? I imagine it’s rife in a lot of organisations. Where do you begin to bring people under your data strategy umbrella? How might you start?

Laura Graham-Brown

From two directions, one with your stakeholder and the other is actually to go and talk to the people who own the data. If you actually go and talk to them about your ideas for data, a proper access to data and this isn’t just to try and take it away from them you are just trying to bring it all in under one under good set of rules usually you get buy in.

Michael Lonnon

We talked about strategy, people, processes and approaching people in different ways in order to get what you need, but we’ve not talked about technology. Where do you think technology ranks when setting a data strategy?

Laura Graham-Brown

It’s important. You need to understand what technology would fit the data that is there. So if we’re talking supermarket transactions going through a till it is a completely different to insurance. If the data is big, you need to understand what’s the best place for that data to be easy accessible. So yes, the technology is important, but you need to understand what you’re trying to do with the data and what the data is to work out what the technology is. The danger comes if somebody goes there is this new technology let’s find an excuse to use it. You need to be aware of the new technologies and you need to know what they are, so we can move to the best thing for those people. But actually, at the end of the day what matters is somebody’s understanding of the industry to know what you need to do with that data.

Michael Lonnon

You need to ensure that the technology you choose is fit for purpose?

Laura Graham-Brown

Understanding the business value. There’s a lot of people working in HSO who have come from the industry; therefore, they understand when we turn around and say so what does some warehouse manager need data wise. We have somebody who’s been a warehouse manager, so they understand the role of what data has to play in that.

Summary

Data is an asset that when managed well, can provide insight from which to make more profitable decisions.

But as with any asset, data needs careful nurturing to fulfil its potential.

To achieve this, defining a data strategy is one of the first and most important steps. But as you’ve heard, no data strategy can be successful without buy in from the top, without the right people to support it, or the right technology to enable it. Get those three things right and you stand a chance of creating a data led culture and getting measurable return from your data.

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, visit www.hso.com/dynamics-matters for more episodes. So until next time, take care of yourselves.

 

 

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