What does data strategy really mean?
Having seen many different things labelled a data strategy through the years, I thought it made sense to start this course off with a simple look at what does data strategy mean? And in order for us to understand that and use the concepts later in the course, let’s start by diving into what strategy means, and then let’s look at how data can play its part.
In short, a strategy is our way of achieving a goal. To put a strategy together, we look at what resources we have on offer and we evaluate the challenge or the obstacle we need to overcome. We also look at the strengths and weaknesses that we might have. Finally, we use all of that to build a plan about how we’re going to get to that objective. This objective states exactly how are we going to achieve our ambitions.
What is strategy?
Simply put, it’s a plan of action that helps us to achieve a long term goal. We need it when resources are limited and conditions are uncertain because in those times we have to make very clear choices about what we can do, what we want to do and what will get us to that long term goal.
Strategy coordinates our resources to make the most of the strengths that we have and get across the weaknesses that exist in our organizations today, and we apply those strengths at the positions of greatest leverage.
So a data strategy, in this case, is looking at:
- Where can data support our long term objectives?
- Where can we bring our data resources in and help reduce uncertainty in the business?
- And how can we coordinate the data that exists across departments and teams in our organizations to make use of the strengths, the unique attributes of data that we know about and overcome the weaknesses, maybe the data quality issues we have today to deliver against the business long term goal?
Strategy is there because we’re in a competitive environment, and that could mean that we’re trying to beat out a rival firm, but it could also be competing internally for resources, for money, for the mindshare of our executives.