4 Characteristics of a Modern Data Management Strategy

StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures Article |Data Management|4 Characteristics of a Modern Data Management StrategyClean, comprehensive data is one of the most, if not the most, useful assets at an organization’s disposal. Data analytics is a major driving force behind business leaders’ efforts to streamline operations, connect with new clients, and gain an advantage over competitors. Unfortunately, for many organizations, efforts to devise and execute strategic initiatives tend to be hampered by the need to spend significant amounts of time and financial resources toward compliance with regulatory mandates.

In the world of business today, regulatory standards and requirements change at dizzying speeds, shifting the needs and responses of financial institutions in turn. Hence, it’s more necessary than ever for organizational decision-making to be proactive, fast, and above all data-driven. If an organization’s workforce and resources are spread thin just attending to daily upkeep and scrambling to meet complex regulatory demands, it will have little time and energy left to focus on profitability.

Many digital solutions available today promise a stable data foundation that will allow companies to handle their information more accurately and efficiently. Employing such solutions is a key step for organizations to develop an up-to-date approach to data management. Some essential qualities a modern data management strategy must have include the following:

Well-Integrated and Unified

One of the greatest challenges organizations face when it comes to data management has to do with depending on siloed legacy systems that make it difficult to collect and reconcile data across multiple sources. Such essential areas as risk, compliance, treasury, and finance often make use of disparate databases and reporting tools. This fragmented approach can, in turn, hinder necessary interdepartmental communication and make it difficult to gain an enterprise-wide perspective.

Above all else, a modern data management strategy seeks to create a single, unified source of truth that is able to pull essential data from multiple sources. This ensures that useful information can be aggregated and accessed across all units within the enterprise. The right digital solutions will be able to perform these unifying functions with great efficiency and accuracy, reducing operational costs and eliminating the risk of redundancies and inconsistencies in your data.

Automation saves valuable time that would have been spent on data collection and reconciliation, allowing you to channel it toward more productive analytical efforts. With a clean, consolidated source of information at your fingertips, your organization will be well-equipped to mine deeper, more substantial business insights at a faster pace than before.

Agile and Adaptable

Demands from regulators, customers, and the market itself can shift radically by the day, if not by the hour. More often than not, organizations are then judged by how quickly and creatively they are able to respond. Hence, it’s imperative for any company to find ways to boost its business agility and react expeditiously to any major changes.

Manually sourcing, tracking, and verifying data across siloed systems is a slow and error-prone process that can be damaging to an organization’s overall performance and reputation. Utilizing an integrated data ecosystem that spans across the entire enterprise is an effective way of reducing reporting-related risks and costs. You’ll be able to access established data structures for known use cases and meet future business demands more quickly—even those you may not have foreseen.

Extensible and Scalable

A robust, extensible data ecosystem will protect your company from being caught off guard by changes in the business and regulatory environment. Look for all-in-one cloud-based data management services that will enable you to build applications that are highly scalable and support all data types, including graph data, relational data, and structured or unstructured nonrelational data. Utilizing this technology ensures that your organization will have access to all the information it needs, presented in the most productive possible way, at any given time.

As previously mentioned, having to spend less time on reconciliation opens up more time for meaningful data analysis. More concretely, this means your company will have more space to develop insightful products and useful offers for customers, thereby driving overall profitability upwards.

Traceable and Transparent

The need to ensure data accuracy and integrity is one major reason manually compiling data for regulatory audits is so intensely time- and labor-intensive. Inconsistencies such as double entries and erroneous calculations can cost an organization dearly in penalty fees alone. The volume and granularity of such manual work, however, makes errors all but inevitable from even the most diligent and well-trained of personnel.

Good data foundation solutions, meanwhile, will be able to gather and process even the most difficult data and standards with ease. Such software likewise comes equipped with features for extensive data tracking, ensuring full transparency and comprehensive records throughout every step of the reporting process. Your company will no longer run the risk of missing deadlines, running up substantial operating costs, or facing hefty penalties.

As data interactions accelerate and more important information from the market becomes available in real time, developing an efficient data management strategy becomes a must for companies of any side. Organizations seeking to operate competitively today need a solid data foundation that can help them adapt to and rise above the demands of the current business landscape.

Take These Vital Steps To Keep Your Business Data Secure

StrategyDriven Organisational Performance Measures Article |Keep your data secure|Take These Vital Steps To Keep Your Business Data SecureToday, consumers and business clients are paranoid about data security. They are constantly fearful that the data held by companies is leaving them vulnerable and open to cases of fraud or scams. That’s why it’s important for every business to take the right steps to secure all business data. Here are the possibilities that we recommend.

Research Standards To Remain Compliant

To help protect customers numerous new regulations have been brought in relating to data security. When you are running your business it is important that you remain compliant with these standards and regulations. For instance, you could be running an accounting firm. If that’s the case, you need to make sure that the software you are using is compliant. Accounting practice software that is compliant will be advertised as such so there should be no confusion here.

Hire An IT Support Team

One of the greatest risks for your business data security is the potential of a hack. It’s important to be able to recognize the key signs of a hack and address them accordingly without any delays. That’s why you should think about hiring an IT support team. An IT support team will monitor your network along with your different systems to check for any issues here and ensure that you are not leaving your business vulnerable. They can also guarantee that your business network and anything like your cloud solution is set up correctly from the first day that you decide to enter the market.

Invest In The Right Level Of Training

Next, you should think abou investing in the right level of training in your business model. The best training will ensure that you don’t have to worry about issues with security developing because your team members weren’t able to recognise the signs of a threat. Phishing scams are becoming more common in a range of different industries. The problem with phishing scams is that they will target team members at various different levels. Investing in training can help team members identify phishing scams so they don’t become victims of an attack like this, giving away sensitive data to the wrong source.

Use A Disaster Recovery Service

Finally, while your main goal should always be to prevent a hack, you do need to think about taking the right step after a hack occurs. More often than not, this is going to mean a full disaster recovery. Without the right plan in place this could take weeks or even months and cost your business thousands due to downtime. With a plan, you can get everything back up and running in minutes. You should speak to your IT support team about this possibility. They should be able to provide you with all the right options here that you need.

We hope this helps you understand some of the key steps that must be taken to ensure that your business data does remain secure. In doing so, you can avoid incidents that could obliterate your brand and cause you to lose the support of your clients.

How to Stop Drowning in Data and Find Actionable Insights

StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures Article |Actionable Insights|How to Stop Drowning in Data and Find Actionable InsightsWhen a small group of executives from mid-size companies got together to discuss data issues, the conversation quickly turned to what to do once you have too much data. The executives were drowning in numbers and wanted someone to toss them a life jacket.

These companies had already invested significant resources into their data infrastructure. They were tracking millions or billions of data points in real-time and with some of the best technologies. Their challenge was actually using the data to make better decisions. They had this high-speed, modern car that no one knew how to drive. Just like you might admire a nice car as you walk by it, they were admiring their data infrastructure. But cars are meant to be driven, not just admired.

Data overwhelm is rooted in psychology and isn’t always solved by technology. In fact, technology might make it worse by increasing the volume of data. You can’t drink from a fire hydrant, and that same idea applies to data.

Data overwhelm is the classic “walking down the cereal aisle” problem. Imagine going to the supermarket to buy a new cereal. You don’t know what you want and instead will decide once you get there. The only problem is that there are a hundred choices of cereal. They all look surprisingly similar, and they might even cost roughly the same. How do you make a choice when everything looks the same?

That’s the problem with data overwhelm. You’re confronted with so many data points that you’re not quite sure what’s important and what’s noise. You may have discovered that 40 percent of your customers went to law school but so what? Should you change your marketing campaigns to talk about the law, or should you ignore this insight?

Now multiply this by 10, 50 or 100 insights, and you start to see the difficulties. Who’s to say what’s important or who could make that determination?

The underlying principle is to reduce the overall volume. It’s not about designing a process that could accommodate the weighing of hundreds of variables. It’s about reducing the number of variables that you’re working with. You want ways to rapidly remove large swaths of unnecessary data so you can deal with the remaining few.

This concept usually gets push back. Executives expect some kind of magical formula that can be applied to all of their data and spit out the right answer. They basically want a magic eight ball that considers all variables and then tells them what to do.

Instead, it’s best to work with fewer inputs to produce more outputs, which are decisions in this case. Once they move in a specified direction, it’s much easier to redirect the momentum towards the correct destination.

To help tackle data overwhelm and start finding actionable insights within your data, use these four strategies:

1. Use gatekeepers

The first strategy to deal with overwhelm is to employ gatekeepers. Companies are trying as much as possible to reduce friction in accessing data, but you may want to add friction in some cases. Some companies make it too easy to create reports, and everyone is constantly building them without thinking through what they actually want.

If you’re interested in learning more about the location of your customers, what will do you with the information? If you don’t have a good answer, your fishing expedition might prove fruitless. If your team struggles to sort through all the noise, you need to become more deliberate in where and how you fish. Gatekeepers can ask a few questions to clarify the overall goal of creating a report.

You want your own devil’s advocate who is skeptical of data requests. The Catholic Church created this position to argue against any given individual’s canonization (sainthood). It would assign someone to literally “advocate for the devil.” The healthy skepticism ensured that facts were uncovered and observed.

2. Decide WDIM — or What Does It Mean?

The second strategy is to obsess over WDIM. Whenever you come across an insight, your team should debate what this insight means (WDIM).

If you can’t come up with good answers, you may be dealing with a vanity metric. Vanity metrics are interesting to look at but don’t actually mean much to your business. If a metric can go up or down without forcing a significant behavior shift within your company, then you can safely ignore it.

3. Choose 3 things

The third strategy is “3 Things,” and it’s the simplest to apply. If you can’t figure out how to prioritize your data, pick the three things that fit the best or seem the best to you. Then analyze these three insights further and take action on them or discard them.

Wrong choices are seldom fatal, but paralysis is. Moving forward can be beneficial because you can now gauge the impact of your decisions and adjust as needed.

4. Manage expectations

For some teams, having the pressure of delivering on a deadline is the thing that helps them break through overwhelm. They focus on prioritizing, making clear choices and finding the WDIM in their data.

Work with your teams to manage expectations around how data is used, and the different scenarios in which data is appropriate and where it can be safely ignored.

Data overwhelm doesn’t have to derail your data strategy, but you need to think about it differently. Focus on the people behind the data, and you’ll start to see solutions to this pesky problem.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Ruben Ugarte Ruben Ugarte is founder of Practico Analytics, providing expertise in data analytics. He has worked with companies on five continents and in all company stages, helping them to use data to make higher quality decisions, boost performance, increase profitability and make their teams world-class. He maintains a popular blog with more than 100,000 readers. His new book is The Data Mirage: Why Companies Fail to Actually Use Their Data (Business Expert Press, January 22, 2021. Learn more at rubenugarte.com.

7 Tips for Managing Your Business Data

StrategyDriven Organisational Performance Measures Article |Business Data|7 Tips for Managing Your Business DataNo matter what industry your business is involved in, it’s likely that you work with significant volumes of data. Customer contacts, payment details, marketing data, product inventories, supplier information, and more. All this data is essential for maintaining your business operations and keeping customers happy, and it has become an integral asset for companies, big and small, all over the world.

But without proper data management practices, you are putting your business at great risk. There is the possibility you could lose data due to mismanagement or improper cybersecurity protocols. You could leak sensitive client information and damage your company’s reputation. In the worst instances, you could disrupt business operations, lose profits, and potentially face legal action from unhappy customers.

To avoid these unpleasant scenarios, any business owner needs to know how to manage their data. The following guide will outline some of the top tips for looking after your information and making the best use of your data to grow your business.

Create a plan

For any business to succeed in any endeavor, it is essential to have a plan. Come up with a comprehensive strategy outlining exactly what you want to achieve from your business data and how you are going to reach your goals. This will keep you focused along the way and will inform all important decisions you make. This plan should feature a data management policy that will help you and your employees follow the same consistent practices at all times.

Be compliant

Data is a sensitive subject in the modern world, and more and more consumers are becoming aware of their need for privacy. As a result, there are rules and regulations when it comes to collecting and storing people’s private information. Make sure you brush up on the compliance laws in your industry and incorporate these into your data management policy.

Collect and use data sensitively

One of the most effective tools in any business’s arsenal is digital marketing. Promoting your products, services, and brand to your ideal consumers through a variety of online platforms including social media, email, organic search, paid advertising, and written content. But to get your digital marketing campaigns seen by the people you want to see them, you need to gather their data. There are many different ways to collect this information. You could ask them to fill in form fields on your website, you can use cookies that track their online activity, or employ surveys and social media monitoring. However you choose to gather data, you must do it in an ethical, sensitive fashion. As we’ve already established, you need to be compliant with industry regulations. But it’s also important that you take the customer experience into account. If a consumer lands on your website and is immediately bombarded with cookie requests, form fields, and other intrusive methods, there is a good chance they will become frustrated and switch off.

To avoid racking up a high bounce rate, be more discreet about your data collection. Offer your web visitors great content or a chance to enter a contest in return for a few significant pieces of information like their email address and demographics.

Once you have collected their data, you can contact them and expose them to advertising and messaging related to their brand. But once again, you should take care not to overdo it. Rather than filling their inboxes with generic sales emails, instead, roll out a carefully crafted email campaign tailored to their specific buyer personas. This will help to maximize engagement and ensure you optimize your business data.

Boost your security

For any business, there are so many potential dangers that could befall your data. You could become the target of malicious cybercriminals who are out to steal your private information, or your computer system could be ravaged by bugs and viruses. Thieves could break into your premises and make off with your hard drives and computers, or a disgruntled employee could attempt to steal sensitive data and take it to a new employer.

As a business owner, you need to take steps to protect yourself against these eventualities. One of the most important things you should do is to install the best possible cybersecurity software across your computers. This will protect your systems and data from cyberattacks and viruses and give you peace of mind that your information is safe.

To keep your business premises safe from break-ins, it’s not enough to lock the doors each night. Most criminals are smart enough to get around a simple padlock or deadbolt, so it’s a good idea to invest in a more advanced business security system. These can vary in scale and cost, but the best solutions will include alarms, motion sensors, closed-circuit television cameras, and digital key codes. Although it will set you back financially, you can’t put a price on security and peace of mind.

Be careful about which people within your workforce have access to certain data, and ensure sensitive files are securely password-protected. It’s a good idea to use password management software for maximum security and change all passwords immediately whenever someone leaves the company.

Train your team

One of the biggest risks to your data is the people within your company. Someone could accidentally misplace a business device with customer data stored on it, or forward a sensitive email to the wrong person. These mistakes happen all the time in business, and although they are usually not malicious, they can be incredibly damaging. The best way to avoid them is to train your team up in proper data management protocol.

Creating a data security policy that everyone must adhere to will instruct your workforce in best practices for compliance. This should outline the proper use of devices, correct storage, and the processes to follow in the event of something going wrong. Provide regular training to keep your team’s knowledge fresh, as well as to update staff on changes around data compliance.

Back up data

If your business was subjected to a disaster and your data was lost, would you have a plan to get up and running again? What would you do if a fire or flood wipes out your computer system, or a virus wipes your hard drive? These scenarios could realistically befall any company, so it’s a good idea to have a plan B in place. If you are not backing up your business data each day, you should start immediately. This way, if something happens, you can recover it quickly and ensure as little disruption as possible. Backup your entire system onto an external hard drive every single day. Rotate between two or three different hard drives and always ensure at least one of these is stored outside of your business premises at all times.

Invest in database management software

For business owners strapped for time and resources, one of the most convenient and efficient solutions to adopt data management software. This could be a customer database tool like Salesforce or a marketing platform that allows you to integrate advertising data to a database, such as Amazon Redshift (https://improvado.io/integrations/amazon-redshift). These tools will allow you to keep all your data in one place and provide a much more efficient and secure business practice.

In conclusion, there are lots of things you can do to improve your business data management, and you don’t need to be a specialist to get started. By following these seven tips, you will improve your security and reap a wider range of benefits from your data.

3 Major Challenges Financial Institutions Face When Implementing Business Insight Technology

StrategyDriven Organizational Performance Measures Article |Financial Institutions|3 Major Challenges Financial Institutions Face When Implementing Business Insight TechnologyIf you’ve been in the market for new business insight technology, such as a financial services analytics solution, the benefits of these are obvious. Promises made by your technology partner, such as increased analytics capabilities and improved compliance with regulators, are probably at the top of your mind. But you must also remember that any new technology you onboard will bring change to your bank’s operations—some of which isn’t welcome just yet. It won’t be as simple as rolling the software out across your enterprise, then expecting everything to go smoothly from thereon.

It’s usually the job of a bank’s chief financial officer (CFO), chief risk officer (CRO), or chief technology officer (CTO) to oversee tech implementation. If you’re in any one of these positions, you must be wondering how you can complete your implementation or modernization initiatives with the least amount of friction possible. It helps to know the challenges associated with introducing this kind of technology, so that you’re better prepared to win staff buy-in when needed. To guide you, here are some common obstacles to implementing new business insight technology. You’ll learn what drives these problems, as well as how to address them and guarantee an integration process that’s as smooth as possible.

A Resistant Culture

The first challenge that you’re likely to encounter is a familiarity bias within your institution. People may be partial to the bank’s existing way of doing things, especially for major tasks like financial analysis and reporting. They might be intimidated by the new software, as this will be their first time to see robotics and machine learning applied in banking processes. Or, they may be skeptical about whether it’s worth the cost, or the risk to a high-stakes profession such as finance. This kind of resistance is possible across different levels of the enterprise, from upper management to rank-and-file banking staff.

Those directly in charge of onboarding the technology must accommodate these doubts and prove that the new software isn’t as scary as it seems. Try to illustrate in concrete terms that the tech will serve a very practical purpose. It will make the task of deriving insight easier—not harder—to do.

Also worth explaining to your colleagues is that the tech will put you in a highly competitive position: that of an early adopter. It will allow your institution to master important business trends faster than your peers. You’ll also be better equipped to leverage your brand as a forward-thinking and future-ready one.

Admittedly, it may take some time for your institution to get over its initial resistance. But eventually, they will see for themselves that the investment is a rewarding one.

The Need to Align Technology with Human Capabilities

The next major challenge is ensuring that staff can sync up their human abilities for deriving business insight with that of their new technological counterpart. After all, it isn’t only technology that you should depend on to improve your bank’s situation. You also need to pay attention to the technology’s intended users and how the tech can enhance the way they work.

The staff who are in charge of financial analysis and compliance will likely have to adjust their workflow to accommodate the technology. So even if you’re onboarding a solution that’s easy to use, it would still be prudent to schedule further training with staff. You should also ensure that your bank’s IT staff are properly oriented on basic troubleshooting. If technical analysts run into sudden problems like server errors, at least your IT team will know where to start.

One thing’s for sure: the use of AI and machine learning in financial services analytics doesn’t necessarily mean that work done by humans is obsolete. The tech can actually enhance the quality of human staff work while relieving the latter of the more rote aspects of financial analysis. A smooth transition into staff members’ workflow and some additional practice with the software will make all the difference.

The Fear of Breaches to Data Privacy and Security

The final challenge pertains to assuring stakeholders that the bank’s financial data will be safe. Since banks handle huge volumes of sensitive customer data, this anxiety is very much warranted. It isn’t only money that a bank would stand to lose in a major data privacy breach or system-wide error. The institution could also lose the trust of its customers and the general public, which takes years to build.

You must have enough proof that the new business insight technology isn’t weak against malicious attacks and isn’t easily compromised by human or server error. That’s why it’s crucial to sign on a technology partner of good repute, with an established track record for information security. Look for clear and strong policies on their part for how to protect sensitive data. Your technology partner should also demonstrate an adherence to a security standard befitting of your bank. Lastly, they should be forthright with you about how to work through the worst-case scenario and craft an effective recovery plan.

Conclusion: Overcoming the Challenges, Reaping the Rewards of Using Business Insight Technology

Given that new business insight technology is such a high-stakes investment, it’s all right for the decision to be subjected to scrutiny. The bank’s stakeholders deserve answers to their questions, and they deserve proof that onboarding the software will be beneficial to the institution.

If you adopt a solution you truly believe in, your enhanced ability to derive and act on key business insight will speak for itself. Don’t be afraid to invite conversation about how the technology will change things for the bank, and its potential for improving everyone’s analytics capabilities.