By Rudie Vermaak, Associate Client Partner at Decision Inc.
If data-driven businesses in the digital world are to be successful, they must have an effective information strategy in place to drive growth and provide value. The ultra-competitive environment requires decision-makers to have access to relevant insights that only come about as a result of having a well-planned and executed information strategy in place.
There is a business-critical need to extract intelligence out of data and deliver it as efficiently as possible to those executives that guide business strategy. However, organisations who do not have information strategies in place, typically have programmers and data analysts who tend to focus on mundane tasks instead of delivering business value.
It is extremely detrimental for an organisation to have invested in highly qualified people with the right skills only to have them grow bored and uninspired. Not only does this result in staff churn but can also impact the bottom-line of the organisation.
Important business decisions are reliant on having access to the most up-to-date, relevant, and trustworthy data. Irrespective of whether an organisation uses business intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, or any other technological enhancement, it means very little if the company fails to unlock its true value.
An information strategy is the glue that binds technology, data, and insights together, to deliver an integrated approach, helping to position a company in the connected landscape. Typically, there are three kinds of organisations when it comes to information strategy:
Firstly, you have those who have already embraced the likes of business intelligence and data management. They understand the importance of having these systems in place and to focus on the long-term vision of the organisation.
Secondly, there are those organisations who realise they need to start testing the waters or risk losing out. The arrival of a new generation of managers are helping drive the organisational change required for an information strategy.
Finally, there are those traditionalists who feel that relying on the same year-on-year strategy and incumbent technologies is adequate. They are set in their ways, but this is limiting their growth. A shortage of new blood, new strategies, and new ways to use data will eventually see them lose relevance not only with employees but also their other stakeholders.
Making the move
Admittedly, cost is still considered a limiting factor when it comes to developing and implementing an information strategy. Predictive analytics, clean data, new technologies, and all the other elements required can quickly snowball out of control if companies do not manage the process closely.
Some companies tend to take a ‘Big Bang’ approach, which is not recommended. Information strategy should take a more measured pace with different organisational elements being broken down into phases. This will enable a company to strategically focus on each phase and its tasks to achieve the desired outcome within the allocated budget.
Small businesses who need to balance costs will find this phased approach a better way of driving information management. Solutions must just be scalable and cost-effective to meet current demands but can grow with the organisation.
Ultimately, information strategy is about understanding the different needs of the various business units and leveraging data to suit them best. Without it, companies operate in a vacuum with very little home for longevity.