How to utilise your most important asset: Data
  • Ian West, Partner |
4 min read

Although governing data has always been important, there was a time when the topic was perhaps seen as quite dry and drab. But in the past couple of years, data has become a much more desirable and interesting topic area – with several organisations also starting to harness and sell data as a product in recent times. Data is an invaluable asset to all organisations – maybe even their most important one – but how can it be used to its’ full potential in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector?

In our recent event, ’Future of Data’ for the TMT sector, Nick Whitfeld, Partner, Data and Analytics, KPMG in the UK, and I discussed the multiple ways in which you can use data to understand your business, better understand your customers, make better decisions and even add a new product to your portfolio. 

Why should you be utilising data?

When speaking to clients about their businesses, they often ask a lot of similar questions – such as, how should I be pricing my products? How should I be promoting them, and how much spend should I put into this market vs. that market? What skills am I going to need to know in the future? How can I predict my cashflow?

These are all questions that can be answered efficiently and effectively with data – and there are several steps that you can take to assess whether data management and utilisation is the best next step forward for your organisation. These are:

Realise and assess the business value of data

The first and the most critical step for any organisation is to carefully analyse and focus on the value addition it will bring to their business. Ask yourself – what is the business problem you are trying to solve with data? If you can’t articulate that clearly, then you need to revisit this idea and ask yourself what data could do for you, how it could change your business for the better and what the outcome will be. 

Enterprise alignment and collaboration

The second thing is enterprise alignment. In any large organisation where there are different functions or different teams operating in different markets, internal alignment will be needed the achieve the correct end result. Company-wide investment will be critical. Is this something that your organisation can achieve?

Building out the foundation

To enable any large business decision to flourish, laying the right foundation is important. This must be considered thoroughly before you can make the most out of the data you hold.

For any data module to be successful, it must encompass the four C’s of data management, which are:

  • Creation – entering the data
  • Curate – curating the data into manageable sets which can be manipulated and exploited
  • Consume the data
  • Commercialise the data

How can you bring data into your organisation’s existing infrastructure?

There will always be a legacy environment within the organisation that you will need to engage with and build around. The second thing is ensuring that you define the use-case and build the minimum viable product, which should be pretty straight forward once you’ve gotten past the questions such as “where am I going to get the data from?”. The tricky part (that a lot of organisation’s don’t initially consider) is the integration of the new product into your legacy environment and then scaling it. You will need to consider how to publicise it and communicate it to your audience (the community that will be using the data). How do you engage that community in a way that they want to embrace it? 

Watch out for the pitfalls that come with data

Whilst manipulating and investing in data has its’ own benefits, there are certain pitfalls that organisations need to watch out for. For example, if your proposal isn’t focused on business value, then people will quickly lose faith, and whatever investment you have will quickly be lost. The implementation of data strategies can take up to three years to build, and lots of companies don’t have the long-term investment focus to really build the foundation, infrastructure, skills and capabilities that is needed for a project of this size.

For instance, one of our clients did a brilliant and wonderful job of building out a fantastically detailed planning dashboard that was being used right up to the senior leadership level, but it was being fed by 250 individual spreadsheets in the back end. Much like a swan, the tool was beautiful and sophisticated on the outside, but there was a lot of frantic swimming going on underneath the surface. If you don’t have the right foundations in place, it could easily become something that will trip you up on your data journey.

Additionally, you will need to ensure that you have the correct processes in place to ensure that the data is handled in a regulatory compliant way, in accordance with GDPR and other data laws. If you do not have sturdy and law-abiding practices, you could face serious consequences. Whilst you’re on your journey towards utilising and manipulating data, ensure that you’re aware of the regulatory requirements throughout all steps of the process.

By considering the above guidance and adopting the correct strategies early, your organisation could benefit massively by integrating the use of data into your business plans and practices. It could result in a better understanding of the market you are selling in, the consumers you’re selling to and which products are the most successful and where.

If you would like to join the next ‘Future of’ in the TMT sector event, please email Sarah.Noel@KPMG.co.uk who will add you to the invitation. The events occur monthly and will cover different relevant topics each time.