Why is it such an exciting time to be working in data? We believe data represents untapped potential. It opens up a world of possibility. What’s more exciting than possibility?
A few years ago when I was working as a consultant, I worked with an organization that didn’t think it was possible to include data from three different systems in the same report; they now have a cross-system dashboard that makes new insights readily available on demand. Another company was hopeless about what could be done with a reporting process that consumed two full days of effort every month; we introduced automation that cut that effort down to minutes.
When we think about potential, and when we broaden the bounds of what we once thought was possible, our imagination is free to run wild. The depth and breadth of data today allows us to answer questions that we once thought unanswerable and ask questions we never even considering asking.
And here’s the best part: you don’t need to have the resources of a Fortune 500 company to start doing some really cool things with data. Even if your data volume doesn’t stretch into petabytes and exabytes like the big players, you are still sitting on a wealth of hidden opportunity.
There is so much to consider when it comes to effective data strategy and management but, at the end of the day, we like to approach data with a few core values in mind. These six principles define our philosophies and approaches around data and are top-of-mind in all the work we do.
Data is a Partnership, Not a Project
Implementing a data ecosystem is like “implementing” human resources. Just like the HR team doesn’t dissolve once the HR management software is in place, business intelligence work continues after your BI tools are live. New questions materialize that data can answer—some of them driven by the answers to previous questions. New data sources arise constantly, some that need to be integrated and incorporated into the data ecosystem. The data ecosystem is constantly evolving, and it’s important to keep in mind that data projects often have a number of key milestones rather than a single, defined, immutable finish line.
Business Intelligence is for Everyone
When it comes to uncovering hidden opportunities through data, no company is too small. Even one-person startups can benefit from taking a close look at their processes, technology, and culture to ensure that they are using data in the most innovative ways possible. It’s true that most smaller organizations lack the budget for a single dedicated data analyst, let alone a dynamic, multidimensional BI team with a breadth of expertise. Small companies are familiar with this concept, in many cases outsourcing critical functions like marketing, HR, and finance. You can do the same with data, allowing you to budget for business intelligence resources on an as-needed basis.
Start with Strategy
Companies are often reactive, rather than proactive, in how they approach data. Well-intentioned leaders might use data to answer questions as they arise, rather than building an ecosystem that is equipped to solve problems that haven’t even arisen yet. A holistic and forward-thinking data strategy that is aligned with the overall objectives of your organization will ensure that you are effectively turning data into information, knowledge, and wisdom. It assesses where you are now and where you need to be, and provides a roadmap for how to bridge that gap.
Build Momentum, but Avoid Inertia
Inevitably, data projects often have long time horizons, and it’s important to keep people engaged throughout the process. The most effective approach involves operating in two lanes simultaneously: developing a detailed plan that demonstrates a clear vision of what your end result while look like, while also searching for quick wins that can be delivered early to keep enthusiasm high. Even with a strong plan, flexibility is a must. It is best to take an agile approach to implementation, with a willingness to reassess a project’s scope and priorities as needed.
Different Solutions for Different Situations
Every business is going to be unique. When selecting and implementing business intelligence solutions, there is rarely a single option that stands head and shoulders above the rest in every single circumstance. The best solution for you depends on your unique situation. Considerations include your existing applications and processes, user profile and skill set, personnel size, budget, and specific desired outcomes of your overall data strategy, among other factors. While there are a lot of variables that might influence our recommendation, our preferences and partnerships are never among them. The focus is always on finding the best solution that works for you, not for us.
Collaboration Breeds Success
A typical approach to technical projects is to provide your IT team with some business requirements and set them on their way to put in place a solution. Data projects require a different approach. Data is not terribly useful without business context. At each step of the process, you need input from both the technical and business side. You should solicit feedback and input from as many of your stakeholders as possible and encourage involvement from people across all business units and all levels of your organizational structure. These different perspectives should play a role at every step of the process, from requirements gathering, to acceptance testing, to final approval.
These principles outline a methodology for how we approach business intelligence. It’s insufficient for us to simply be “good at data.” Rather, our aim is to be a partner that guides you throughout your journey with data. Now, some companies are farther along this journey than others. Some, even, are just taking their first few steps. No matter where you are on your data journey, the road ahead is paved with possibility. We want to help you turn that possibility into real business outcomes and unlock hidden opportunities.
To learn more about how Trilix can help you evolve your data ecosystem, check out our Business Intelligence page. And if you’re ready to take the next step in your data journey, we’d love to talk to you!