By NearForm

Build a Successful Data Management Strategy

Data sprawl is a common issue that hinders organisations from being able to make sense of their information and turn it into actionable opportunities. Devising a robust, properly structured and well-organised data management strategy is crucial to organisations striving to enhance digital customer experience.

The journey to getting a proper handle on your organisation’s data begins with breaking down silos in order to build robust and scalable solutions that allow businesses to make sense of their data both now and in the future.

As more and more data streams become available the challenge of managing and creating actionable insights from that information becomes exponentially more difficult over time. Organisations often leave the most data-intensive tasks in the hands of highly technical analysts and engineers, who may be masters of their own domain but don’t have the tools or skillset to create actionable insights.

Individual users, on average, create 1.7 MB of data per second or 2.5 quintillion bytes per day which is a dizzying amount of information to process, clean, analyze and report on. It’s estimated that up to 80% of an organisation’s data is unused.

The pressure to take the information that is coming in and turn it into actionable information is multi-faceted. Organisations need to use their data to improve customer experience to stay ahead of the competition, create robust and scalable systems, understand how new data streams fit into the data infrastructure as a whole in order to gain new insights, manage the ever-increasing amount of data that is flowing in and stay abreast of best practices in regards to machine learning and AI by keeping track of market-leading competitors.

6 Helpful Data Management and Presentation Tips

We often work with customers on enormous data management challenges they are experiencing in their organisations. Whether it’s decades of dispersed and siloed data that needs to be normalised, combined and migrated with strict deadlines or modernising tremendously valuable data sets upon which billion-dollar decisions are made which have become so cumbersome to the point that they are a liability.

Here are six important aspects of developing a data management solution that we advise executives to address in order to maximise their transformation efforts.

1. Question your Assumptions

The first step in any data management transformation is devising a plan to address the issues an organisation is facing. As part of the planning phase, it’s important to acknowledge the assumptions being made about the data and how it’s being used and to question those assumptions. Asking the right questions in this phase will give organisations the power to build the right solution which will help them gain control of and derive value from their data.

Some important questions to ask include:

  • Should the data be stored, accessed, and managed in a certain way?
  • Are there ways to open the data to other departments or direct customers and deliver value that way?
  • Does your team have the skills necessary to create an entirely new data management platform where this data will reside and interface with other systems, people, automation or intelligence tools?
  • What might be possible if you could offer your internal and external customers access to the data buried in your system?

Datastores within your organization are a valuable source of information for you and your customers. The challenge of finding new and optimal ways to query, store and integrate that data can be achieved; organisations just have to recognize that the end result is worth the effort.

2. Choose the Right Tools

Many organisations are stuck trying to manage their data with outdated tools. The data engineering sector has exploded in the 21st century and it’s important to analyse current tooling to see whether there are better solutions available that have been designed to manage large data sets. Using tools that were built for small data sets to manage large data sets will hinder organisations from deriving the maximum value from their data.

3. Use Defence Requirements to Prove your Business Case

It’s absolutely essential to receive buy-in from all key stakeholders before undertaking a data management transformation project. Not everyone understands the value of or sees the need to invest in data management platforms. In the era of GDPR and user privacy, however, it has become absolutely necessary to understand, take control of and protect user data in order to remain in compliance with local and international laws.

This creates the perfect opportunity to not only gain control of customer data for compliance but to take it a step further and turn that information into business intelligence which can help improve the bottom line. It’s like killing two birds with one stone, gain control of user data for compliance reasons and use that data to create actionable insights.

4. Focus on Long-term Solutions

Following on from point one about choosing the right data management tools, knowing when and why to choose a tool is just as important. There are many ‘solutions’ out there that offer ‘one size fits all’ products which may help put out immediate fires when there is pressure to apply a quick fix from management. However these types of products can quickly become inflexible and outdated as the number of users increases and are oftentimes unable to adapt to the quickly changing data engineering landscape.

The most effective data management programs available cater not only to today’s inputs but are also prepared to tackle tomorrow’s unknowns. Some of the key functionalities that are the hallmarks of robust data management tools are:  end-to-end visibility, integration across silos and the ability to consolidate your business’ unique data into useful visualisations that can be used to make strategic business decisions.

5. Cater to the End User

Data scientists and engineers must be aware of how the data they are managing will be consumed in order to design the visualisations and interactions that will help users make better informed decisions. Whether the data is business-facing or customer-facing taking the time to design insightful visualisations that provide real insights will unlock more value and new opportunities because you’re enabling the consumers to understand the data which will influence their decisions moving forward.

For business-facing data sets focusing on creating usable information can help align teams and break down silos by giving stakeholders key insights into aspects of the business that they may not have previously understood.

Success Story: Enabling a Self-serve Model with a User-centric Approach

We worked with Condé Nast to build a solution for migrating decades of content from multiple international locations into a single content management system and delivered an innovative solution within their three-month deadline.

We were able to achieve the results thanks to close collaboration with the client which led to a deeper understanding of the challenges that enabled us to co-create a new tool that walks each location and its data owners through normalising their data to allow for a rapid and accurate transition of their content into the new unified content management system.

One of the key factors that made this engagement successful was the information and knowledge we gained by working with the people closest to the data – the experts in each territory who had created and owned that data – and enabling a self-service model. The result was a solution that empowered users migrate data seamlessly, without having to understand the details of how the migration happened.

6. Collaborate with Other Departments

At NearForm we strongly believe in the power of collaboration and breaking down silos. As we mentioned earlier, oftentimes those in charge of an organisation’s data may work in extreme isolation causing them to misunderstand how data is being consumed or which data is valuable to the end user.

While involving other departments can slow down the process of implementing a successful solution, it ensures that the system being built is adequately addressing the needs of the business. Investing time and effort into understanding the pain points of other departments empowers engineers to design solutions that address what’s needed now and are designed to evolve and scale as data creation continually increases.

Success Story: Unlocking True Potential through Collaboration

We worked with a leading market intelligence and analytics firm to modernise its entire data platform. The company was having difficulty with data being stored and processed in ad-hoc formats making it challenging for its in-house experts to use.

The data was supporting a valuable business process but the data management technology was unwieldy and not robust enough to meet the growing demands of the business.

One of the keys to the success of this project was the client’s commitment to collaboration between NearForm and its internal teams. Rather than tasking us with resolving their data management issues independently they emphasised the importance of working together with their internal teams to build capability allowing them to create and manage the new platform and similar products themselves.

As a result the client now has more flexible data, better services for its internal users and additional revenue opportunities by enabling external customers to see and work more easily with data.

Practising what we Preach

Unlocking the power of your data can transform your business. We developed Clinic.js, a unique open-source performance toolset that analyses and visualizes data to show engineers where applications can perform better. NearForm consultants use this tool to not only improve make some of the most complex Node.js applications more performant for clients, but also make the Node.js platform itself faster. Every visualisation program should be designed so that the end-user is empowered by considering their needs first.

The NearForm team has expertise in designing & building efficient data architecture for data management, consolidation, integration & visualisation. Our team has built reliable, scalable systems for organisations with thousands of users across dispersed sites who need real-time access to data.

Talk to us today to discuss how we can collaborate on addressing your data management challenges & opportunities.

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