Lessons from the CIO Watercooler: Why We Need to Talk about Data

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Featured images for UK blog series August

It’s time we talked about data. While many may find it messy or confusing, there are many reasons to nurture your data, rather than shy away from it. Last month, CIO Watercooler’s Digital Boardroom, an event that uncovers topical discussion points on the IT Leader’s agenda, examined the topic of data and why, in a modern world, we should stop treating it so poorly.

In a competitive business landscape where we navigate through a new set of corporate challenges, data has taken something of a back seat to cloud tools and business continuity measures. But Adriana Karaboutis, Group Chief Information and Digital Officer at National Grid, argues that now is the time to fully realise data as a critical corporate asset.

While we focus on the immediate impact of the pandemic on the bottom line, it’s harder to see the bigger picture. Senior technologists have historically struggled to procure the appropriate support or budgets to optimise data. Adriana goes on to encourage development of a clear strategy and adoption of a data-centric culture that can meet your longer-term strategic goals:

“Don’t plan for a year to have a perfect wedding, which is a launch around data and say it was a great event. This is a marriage, and it takes forever, you have to watch what you’re doing, to make it (the data strategy) enduring and part of the fabric of the company.”

Adriana Karabouris, Group CIDO National Grid

We’ve expanded on some of the key takeaways from the CIO Watercooler Digital Boardroom event in terms of how to embrace data as a critical component in your long-term strategy:

Data Governance and Data Management 

Make use of the CRUDS acronym (Create, Replicate, Update, Delete and Secure) when it comes to data management and governance. Identify the most valuable way to manage data according to business goals and build a longer-term strategy around generating that data and keeping it secure. We need stringent processes in place for the management of data, clear roles and streamlined protocol. Businesses need to find a way to alter the perceptions of data so that it becomes more highly regarded and actively embraced as a critical company asset.

Harnessing Data with the right platforms

There are many tools to help businesses harness their data. Shop around for the right solution and build an intelligent platform that meets your strategic goals and aligns with your businesses needs in terms of scalability and agility. Choosing a platform that can manage many different use cases using the same or replicated data can help your organisation streamline those processes.

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Utilising intelligent analytics

When data is harnessed well, making use of your analytics can help drive profitable processes. Proficient analytics help businesses uncover trends and correlations using mathematical models that unveil tangible and valuable insights. Analytics helps us to make sense of data, turning it into something comprehensive and bringing it to life. Using this could help technologists to encourage a change in attitude towards data, translating it into actionable ‘bigger picture’ insights that could support and underpin a more forward-thinking strategy.

Adopting a data-centric culture

Using these intelligent analytics, and uncovering how valuable data can be, should help in driving a more data-centric culture. The people behind your data management play an integral role in the overall productivity of your organisation. For example, the efficiency and productivity levels of staff members manually inputting data into a system can have a huge impact on organisational efficiency in general, not to mention data quality specifically. If there is an attitude that data is not important, or a level of companywide neglect for data management, the quality of your data will most likely be questionable at best.

Arm yourself with compelling data stories

Having more captivating data-centric stories can help when it comes to rallying support from your key business stakeholders. Spending the time to get into the detail, analyse and unveil undiscovered insights that tell your colleagues something new about your business, can provide a more compelling argument for investing in your data. Getting testimonials on how data might have transformed processes, productivity or efficiency from different departments might also be a shrewd move in altering business-wide attitudes towards data.

That wraps up our five key takeaways from August’s Digital Boardroom session. Get in touch with CIO Watercooler to catch the live, forthcoming sessions in the series.

Restructuring a nation through technology: How UK businesses are facing a post-pandemic future

Originally published Sep 28, 2020, updated Jan 17, 2023

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