What is a Data Strategy?

20200525 strategy

A simple definition of Data Strategy is

A plan designed to improve all of the ways you acquire, store, manage, share, and use data”

Over the years, most companies have spent a fortune on their data.  They have a bunch of folks that comprise their “center of expertise”, they’ve invested lots of money in various data management tools (ETL-extract/transformation/load, metadata, data catalogs, data quality, etc.), and they’ve spent bazillions on storage and server systems to retain their terabytes or petabytes of data.  And what you often find is a lot of disparate (or independent) projects building specific deliverables for individual groups of users.   What you rarely find is a plan that addresses all of the disparate user needs that to support their ongoing access, sharing, use of data.

While most companies have solid platform strategies, storage strategies, tool strategies, and even development strategies, few companies have a data strategy.  The company has technology standards to ensure that every project uses a specific brand of server, a specific set of application development tools, a well-defined development method, and specific deliverables (requirements, code, test plan, etc.)  You rarely find data standards:  naming conventions and value standards, data hygiene and correction, source documentation and attribute definitions, or even data sharing and packaging conventions.  The benefit of a Data Strategy is that data development becomes reusable, repeatable, more reliable, faster.  Without a data strategy, the data activities within every project are always invented from scratch.  Developers continually search and analyze data sources, create new transformation and cleansing code, and retest the same data, again, and again, and again.

The value of a Data Strategy is that it provides a roadmap of tasks and activities to make data easier to access, share, and use.  A Data Strategy identifies the problems and challenges across multiple projects, multiple teams, and multiple business functions.  A Data Strategy identifies the different data needs across different projects, teams, and business functions.   A Data Strategy identifies the various activities and tasks that will deliver artifacts and methods that will benefit multiple projects, teams and business functions.   A Data Strategy delivers a plan and roadmap of deliverables that ensures that data across different projects, multiple teams, and business functions are reusable, repeatable, more reliable, and delivered faster.

A Data Strategy is a common thread across both disparate and related company projects to ensure that data is managed like a business asset, not an application byproduct.  It ensures that data is usable and reusable across a company.  A Data Strategy is a plan and road map for ensuring that data is simple to acquire, store, manage, share, and use.

About Evan Levy

Evan Levy is management consultant and partner at IntegralData. In addition to his day-to-day job responsibilities, Evan speaks, writes, and blogs about the challenges of managing and using data to support business decision making.

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