In the last few years we have witnessed a clear shift in the importance of data and data management in large organisations. Digital empowerment and the growth of data is driving business decisions at the board level. Organisations are hiring ‘data champions’ to take control of the amassing amounts of information and translating that into strategic value for the business.
A recent report by Experian Data Quality entitled “Rise of the Data Force” has documented this emergence of the Chief Data Officer (CDO). The research brought together opinions from over 40 CDOs and senior leaders working across a variety of sectors. It was interesting to see how many of the themes cut across such a broad range of organisations from various sectors.

At the heart of the business

Retailers, for example, are experiencing an evolution of their business models, from one of being product and brand focused to now far more customer centric. Customer data has become a growing priority because it sits at the heart of making that happen.
Considering that industries like retail, financial service and others concentrate so heavily on brand perception, one takeaway from the report which particularly resonated with me is how much importance these companies are placing on creating a data-driven culture within their organisations.
Embedding data at the heart of a business and getting buy-in from the people at all levels of the structure of your company requires something of a cultural shift. However, it’s a pivotal step towards driving the customer agenda, providing insight to inform decisions about all aspects of the customer service and experience – from how stores operate and who we should be hiring, to marketing the right products to the right people.
Utilising customer data also presents a big opportunity to provide a real competitive advantage. Innovation and differentiation is very much focused on adopting a multi-channel approach and aligning a customer’s online experience with their in-store experiences, to create a single customer view.
What we’ve seen is that digital empowerment and the growth of data are driving business decisions at the board level. Retailers are experiencing an evolution of their business models which are becoming consumer data driven. Brands are utilising their customer data to drive strategic business decisions from how stores operate to marketing the right products to the right people. Great importance is placed on making sure data is weaved into the fabric and culture of an organisation to drive value.
Marketers are becoming far savvier about how they approach customers, making the experience personal to them no matter what channel they are interacting with. Organisations therefore need to invest in professionals who have the mindset and skills to drive tangible value from data as operating models evolve – this, again, is the role of the ‘data force’.

Action required

Harnessing the power of data is a combination of a top-down and a bottom-up approach. At the top, data provides customer insight which business leaders might not have seen before or considered. Senior teams then get excited about the opportunity and thinking about the business operating with that customer dimension. However, the real value comes from the bottom-up approach.

To get data really working in an organisation you have to include all divisions to create value, but it requires a leader, with a clear focus, driven from the business agenda. That is why the role of a senior ‘data broker’ in your business is so important. 

Through the provision of infrastructure, strategy and guidance, they have the power to unlock data and make it work at every level of the business. By taking that holistic view and applying the results to all areas of the business, organisations can become far more powerful and profitable.