Rue La La Chief Technology Officer Anthony Accardi offered tips to help IT professionals build “healthy” relationships with data during his keynote presentation to Argyle’s CIO membership at the 2018 CIO Leadership Forum: Data Strategy & Innovation in Boston on May 2. In his presentation, “Data Strategy: Key Decisions at Rue La La,” Accardi provided insights to help IT professionals optimize the value of their data.
A data strategy is a common part of a successful business plan, and today, many businesses are using data to make faster, more informed decisions than ever before. Yet no two data strategies are exactly alike, and the data strategy that serves one company well may fail to deliver the optimal results for a comparable business.
Ultimately, IT professionals must look beyond data as they craft their data strategies. If IT professionals understand the value of the data at their disposal, they can incorporate tools and technologies to get the most out of this information. As a result, these IT professionals may be able to use data to make the best-possible decisions.
“Data strategy has very little to do with the data itself,” Accardi indicated. “What makes data strategy interesting, compelling and important is that it has everything to do with the relationship we have with our data and how we use it to make decisions.”
Although data plays a key role in a company’s everyday operations, data alone is insufficient. Unstructured and structured data is available, but the sheer volume of information available to companies can be daunting. If IT professionals fail to prioritize data that is relevant to a company’s everyday operations, they could miss out on opportunities to help a business achieve its desired results.
“If you make data-driven decisions, you’re going to make the best-possible decisions, with the best-possible results,” Accardi noted. “But data is toxic in large quantities.”
Data collection and analysis technologies empower IT professionals to speed up and improve their data management processes. These technologies enable IT professionals to quickly retrieve data from a wide range of sources and mine this information for actionable insights. Best of all, data collection and analysis technologies often help IT professionals differentiate meaningful information from all other data.
“A lot of data is noise, and in that noise, it is easy to get lost and distracted and wind up in the wrong place,” Accardi said. “You need to be data-driven and avoid ‘data poisoning.'”
If IT professionals fall victim to looking at massive amounts of data, they are unlikely to quickly obtain meaningful business insights. Perhaps even worse, these IT professionals risk wasting time and resources.
Also, IT professionals must update their data strategies to keep pace with industry patterns and trends. If IT professionals focus on deploying technologies designed to streamline data management, they could reduce the risk of data poisoning.
“Over a long period of time, data poisoning can lead to bad decisions that ultimately lead to failure,” Accardi stated.
Unconscious data analysis biases are problematic for many IT professionals, too. These biases sometimes lead IT professionals to focus exclusively on data sets that support a specific idea or conclusion.
“There is so much data available that you can selectively use it to support a conclusion that you want to arrive at,” Accardi pointed out. “On the surface, something may look data-driven. But it may really involve data hijacking.”
Building a data strategy that encourages collaboration and teamwork is paramount. If IT professionals across a business work together to analyze data, they can take an objective view of this information and gain meaningful business insights from it. Then, IT professionals can use these insights to make informed decisions to help a company foster long-lasting customer partnerships.
“It is critically important that we build an emotional relationship with our customers that goes well beyond a transaction,” Accardi said. “And to do that at any sense of scale, data is critical.”
Lastly, IT professionals must focus on their current and future data activities.
New data is available to IT professionals every day, and these professionals must deploy technologies so they can analyze this information accordingly. If IT professionals have effective data strategies in place, they can track industry data and retrieve meaningful insights from it. As such, these IT professionals can make data-driven decision-making a vital part of a company’s operations for years to come.
“Don’t invest in your data ecosystem to solve the problem that is right in front of you,” Accardi pointed out. “Invest in your data ecosystem to enable the solutions to problems you don’t yet know about.”