No doubt. The future of every business is data-driven. Data is one of the most valuable resources for any organization and is the oil you need to run the whole company. But why do you need a data department? What will a data department do that an IT department isn’t already doing? This blog explains all your questions.
Businesspeople often wonder why they need so much data in the present time when they have managed without it until now—why a data department is so critical now. If you are wondering the same, you need to think about the following questions:
- How can you serve customers better? - Data.
- How can you become more efficient and increase ROI? - Data.
- What can help you achieve your future roadmap? - Data.
- What has technology created now which was not available before? - Data.
If a business is an engine, data is the new oil, and the data department is your oil well.
What is a Data Department?
A data department is a specialized department that helps organizations generate, collect, clean, organize and use data to make informed decisions. This department has experts from the emerging fields of data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. This team is responsible for creating a sound data strategy for the whole organization.
Just like how having IT and Business Intelligence departments is a norm, businesses also need a dedicated data department. It is unfair to expect your IT or BI department to handle all your data needs.
The IT departments are good with setting up and fine-tuning systems. But data is not their forte to start with. Similarly, the business intelligence departments can analyze and disseminate data to the right people in various departments. However, it is not their expertise to generate and use data for different business processes. That’s where a data department, backed with a robust data governance policy, comes in.
Is a Data Department necessary?
According to PwC, a data-driven organization is 162% more likely to surpass its revenue goals than its non-data-driven counterparts. So, is the data department necessary? You get to answer that.
As the world becomes more and more techno-centric, data will run the world. Businesses that can harness this newfound power to achieve increased efficiency and consumer centricity will be the businesses that will eventually survive.
The following are a few ways a data-driven approach can help you out.
1. Minimized errors
A makeshift approach to data management often leads to data errors and eventually wrong decisions that hurt the business in the long run. A data department can put together a streamlined data management approach that ensures that it remains correct and consistent at all stages of operations.
2. Objective decisions
People act by their own experiences and biases. And if an organization lacks a data culture, a more opinionated person can often see decisions go their way. Data takes such biases and subjectivity away. Thus, the decision made is an objective and a collective one.
3. Data security
As a business, you will always be working with consumer data in one way or another. And if you do not have a dedicated team to take care of that data, everyone doing business with you is at risk. A data department not only harnesses data but also ensures that no one does it without your consent.
4. Quality of data
Having a data department would not only scale the quantity of data that your organization works with; the quality will also go up eventually. Better data management and industry best practices will further amplify the data that an organization generates and collects. As every department grows more versed with data in an enabling environment, your organization-specific best practices will emerge automatically.
5. Operational efficiency
When every business department gets access to well-managed data, it makes business processes faster and more efficient, resulting in reduced waiting times, less resource wastage, and far more accurate operational choices.
Areas Where a Data Department Can Help an Organization
Data is everywhere; so are its uses. From customer experience to business strategy, data gives the industry leaders an edge over their competition.
1. Customer experience
Data tell organizations what people expect from them. When these user preferences are taken into consideration, it creates a personalized experience for users that is to their liking. They realize that the business they are buying from cares about their likes and convenience. This realization increases customer loyalty and retention for the brand.
2. Marketing efforts
41% of the PS owners are females. Sony knows this because it has the data. It also knows that the proportion of female owners is increasing and the males are still in the majority. This information will help them target their marketing efforts to the section where it matters. Similarly, the target audience can be segregated based on age, profession, location, communication channel (Social media management), and other demographics. Marketers do not target everyone these days. They only target people whom the data says are more likely to convert.
3. Resource management
Resources have a way of getting wasted if not managed carefully. Data can help businesses achieve efficient resource management. Management knows both the quantity and the quality of input needed to achieve the desired outcome. And this knowledge is not based on gut but on tried and tested data.
4. Business strategy
Which products were a hit last season? Which markets performed better? Which employees were the most productive? Which investments gave you good returns? A business head has to tackle all these questions regularly. And even though these questions look complicated, quality data can help you chart out your business strategy just fine.
Challenges to Consider While Creating a Data Department
As beneficial as it is to have a data department, there are still some challenges that organizations need to overcome to become data-driven.
1. Initial Investment
Creating a new department would involve mobilizing additional resources. In the beginning, it would mean spending money without immediate returns. This scenario is indeed a business challenge.
2. Challenging for employees
The Harvard Business Review found that 77% of the executives report data analytics initiatives adoption in business as a big challenge. As everyone is not equally data-literate, one should make it easily understandable to enable a data culture in an organization.
3. Legacy issues and organizational restructuring
The majority of businesses do not have an organizational structure that fully uses data. They have been doing things a certain way. Such legacy approaches have to go in favor of a data-centered structure.
4. Lack of data autonomy
Customers feel safer when sharing their data if they can control what to share when to share, and when not to share. Hence, give your customers some control over their data. Having a data department won’t help much if your customers do not share data with you, citing opaqueness & lack of data autonomy.
5. Lack of a coherent data strategy
With so many buzzwords crowding the information space, anyone can lose sight of what they need to do. That's where a coherent data strategy will facilitate you to drive your organization into the future.
6. Possible data overload
Just because data is valuable does not mean you start collecting everything and anything you can find. It happens with companies that start on their data journey without grasping the complete picture. Result? They have a little of what they need and a lot of what they will never use.
7. Data security
Once you start collecting, cleaning, storing, and using big data, you are also responsible for locking out any unauthorized access. Thus, setting up a data department would implicitly mean investing in your data security infrastructure as well.
As data becomes an essential factor for business survival, a data department will soon become a business necessity. Having big data is one thing; leveraging its full potential is another. Having the first without the second means nothing.