Data separate from business strategy is a bust

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Samir Sharma, founder and CEO of Datazuum.
Samir Sharma, founder and CEO of Datazuum.

Many companies today are investing heavily in building data platforms. However, despite increasing efforts and investment in building these platforms, the results have been middling at best. Organisations are still struggling to scale and optimise and get the value from data.

So said Samir Sharma, founder and CEO of Datazuum, who shared his perspective about what underpins the success of many data initiatives during a keynote address at the ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit 2021, held as a virtual event this week.

“I ask you today to momentarily suspend the current paradigm of traditional investment in technologies and embrace the reality that many of you will never become data organisations, but better organisations getting increased value from your data as an enabler,” he says.

Many companies aren’t using their data to its potential, Sharma explains. “A recent IBM study found, on average, that companies lose about $8 million a year due to poor data analysis. This could lead to a number of things, and not just from a technology angle. We’re talking about reputational damage that's been affected due to poor data analysis, lost revenue because we're not really understanding what's happening in the business and the supply chain, as well as missed opportunities.”

Leadership is a key aspect to any data strategy, he says. "Good leadership will ensure that there's a total view of what data needs to do. This leadership needs to sit enterprise wide, and must understand everything across the business and what they need to do in terms of helping support the business functions and departments.”

A focus on data strategy is the right way to start any data journey, and to build decision intelligence.  "Companies need to think about how they can use their data to help them garner more value from their people internally, to understand their customers better, and even maybe to improve compliance,” adds Sharma.

Challenging the value

He says the lack of skills in terms of data literacy needs to be addressed too, with Gartner reporting that 85% of data initiatives fail due to this. In addition, the disconnect between data and business strategy is another challenge, as data needs to be embedded into the business strategy and to the actual business outcomes and growth.

"Many of you will never become data organisations, but better organisations getting increased value from your data as an enabler."

“What we're seeing now are a lot of companies challenging the efficacy of their data and analytics functions, in terms of how much value they've added, and with the huge investments that they've put up,” he adds. “Many are now getting rid of these functions, and are looking at internalising them with business teams or outsourcing them, which is not the right thing to do because I believe that there's been quite a distinct gap between how these functions fit together.”

He believes businesses need to focus on value creation, and change the mindset around the way they think in terms of co-operation between data and business people. 

“It’s understanding how we're going to work together, what the engagement model should look like, and how we're going to be purely business focused.”

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