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The value of data centricity

The value of data centricity

As technology evolves, data centric innovation looks essential to building lasting value

Natalie Semmes headshot

Partner, KPMG in the UK, Head of Intelligent Automation, Corporates Consulting

KPMG in the UK


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In the experience economy data is not only essential, it’s highly sensitive. An audience poll taken at a recent KPMG panel discussion on data illustrates this point. The poll showed that most attendees believe they own the personal data that online retailers store about them – but they also view data as being out of their control.

This apparent contradiction shows how important it is for businesses to nurture data as they would any other asset. Unfortunately, many big companies are failing to maximise the value of data as an asset – or to minimise its potential status as a liability. 

That’s evident from the fact that many are unable to identify and manage the data they already control. As a result, they are struggling to leverage new technologies such as AI to their full potential. And if employees don’t know how the business processes their data, how can customers trust a firm to safeguard their privacy? 

In the longer term, this failure to put data at the centre of business models also has profound implications for innovation. True innovation depends on the effective use of data. But any short term advantages gained from data analysis will be far outweighed by long term costs if that analysis makes irresponsible use of customers’ personal data. 

KPMG believes that a data centric mind-set may hold the key to maximising the long term value of data.  Putting data at the centre of decision making can help businesses to achieve a wide range of benefits.

  • First, data centricity maximises value by treating data as an asset to be nurtured. It also encourages a culture of maintaining customer trust over data – something vital to long term brand value.
  • Second, it minimises data related risks. Views about data privacy vary between markets, sectors, customer segments and individuals. A data centric approach enables companies to be transparent with customers about how their data is used, and about the associated benefits and costs.
  • Third, a data centric mind-set allows firms to apply the growing range of data-related regulations in an integrated way, rather than through a disjointed collection of compliance layers.
  • Fourth, a data centric view is a better foundation for data centric innovation than a more traditional view based on people, processes and technology. 

Of course, achieving data centricity is not without its challenges. Strong leadership is essential, not only to establish the focus on data but also to ensure it is used in a way that balances the asset and liability sides of the ledger. Board and C level leaders should aim to make their own decisions in a data-centric way.

Achieving a data centric culture is vital to success too. If employees are educated about the potential value and risks of data, they will not only find it easier to innovate with data in mind, but also to do so in a way that respects customer beliefs.

Lastly, tools that enable businesses to take data centric decisions without achieving the impossible goal of perfect data centralisation are vital to effective innovation. KPMG’s extensive experience of collaborating with Appian to help clients develop new apps and integrate their view of data shows the value of this agile, pragmatic approach.

In our view, it’s increasingly likely that data centric organisations will be best placed to compete and succeed in a data centric future.


To discuss this topic further, please contact: 

Natalie Semmes - Partner, Head of Intelligent Automation

Matt Malone - Partner, Head of Risk and Regulatory Transformation

© 2021 KPMG LLP a UK limited liability partnership and a member firm of the KPMG global organisation of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Limited, a private English company limited by guarantee. All rights reserved.

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