Our Insights

Data Driven –Walking before you can drive

  • 26 Apr 2019


Competitive Advantage

If you believe the headlines, it seems like everyone (else) is well on the road to becoming efficiently data driven or more worryingly, already there. Other companies are hiring data scientists, moving to the cloud, developing lakes and buying the latest AI / ML applications.

Your competition is gaining competitive advantage, obtaining insights from their data and even realising their data as an asset. You just don’t have the same capabilities yet … so time to take immediate action!

Not necessarily...

Repeating History

The key success factors for implementing a successful data & analytics programme and ultimately becoming an insights driven company are not as exciting, or appear as decisive as buying people, tech or outsourcing services. However, considering the 50-80% failure rate (depending on your source) of complex data programmes, it is constantly surprising that companies fail to address these fundamental issues time and time again.

Regardless of the amount of money you throw at a programme, if these issues are not addressed before you start out, you will fail;

  1. Board Leadership – top down buy-in to the change programme, not lip service
  2. Aligned Goals & Strategy – clear outcomes and roadmap that match company goals
  3. Staff Involvement – consultation and understanding, not buck passing
  4. Data Governance – control, authority and agreed decision making processes
  5. Data Quality – golden source, accurate and timely data

So, if the evidence for what needs to happen first is clear and the failure rate of data programmes so high, why aren’t companies addressing these issues?

The top 3 reasons are;

  1. Companies want to ‘get going’. The heat is on, expectations are high, outcomes seem obvious and benefits compelling. But the boring groundwork to address the points above must be carried out long before the gains are evident. If not already in place, stop and go back.
  2. Tech is seen as the ‘silver bullet’. However, it’s not an IT project and tech is not the solution, just an enabler. The big picture is that becoming data driven is a change programme for the whole company, not the IT or Analytics Team.
  3. Current data is in a mess. All the more reason to resolve data quality and governance issues BEFORE further key decisions are made. IBM estimate that the cost of poor quality data in the US alone in 2016 was $3.1 trillion. You don’t want to be rich in data and poor in information.

Shoulders of Giants

If the main reasons for past data programme failures can be identified, then avoiding these should be straight forward, but we’ve seen that they’re not.

This is an enterprise change programme with a heavy technical slant. It requires a senior level ‘Head of’, with authority to manage the company wide programme and the specialist data and technology expertise to steer the ship forward and avoid the storms. This should be a board level role, hence the Chief Data Officer position that’s come to the fore the last couple of years. However, not all companies are of the size or at the stage to warrant or afford a CDO, certainly not full time. These are expensive resources who necessarily require 3-6 months to understand the landscape and establish internal relationships.

Even if you have that time and deep pockets, with so many failed programmes in the market how do you know who to turn to? Whilst you can learn a great deal from failure, you don’t want it to be your only point of reference.

A Mentor, a ‘giant’ in the data market, who’s tasted both great failure and success is a great option. Someone with a proven track record of data programme ROI who will;

  • Make an immediate impact
  • Review the current position & capabilities
  • Guide the board
  • Co-develop the strategy
  • Ensure the foundations are in place
  • Maintain control and ownership within the company

Whilst this goes against conventional wisdom, the current solutions are not working. Outsourcing to consultancies are very costly and force companies to get tied in to long contracts as well as give up control and knowledge of the programme. Hiring a full-time C-level head at the exploratory stage is often unnecessary, expensive and time consuming.

If you would like to further understand your options, talk to Ammonite Group. Delivering Data Programmes – A new concept to challenge conventional solutions.

  • Our Insights