Data Strategy is both methodical and creative. You must identify the best opportunities for how to leverage your own data, but also the data around your organization and beyond. Our methodology helps uncover, start to finish, the best strategies to maximize your data assets while limiting your risk. Our approach, following the DataSmart Method, will be to identify your data assets, value them, select the right data partnership strategy, and build a reporting framework to protect those assets.
As we begin to identify data assets at your company, you will immediately realize that there are almost too many to name. It helps if you can categorize them and split them into two broad groups that will later have significance as you consider partnership structures.
Internal Data Assets
The first category, which we will tackle in this chapter, is data that is created by your company.
When you create your business or operate it, you are actually also creating and building significant amounts of data. This data exists only and specifically because your business has come into existence or continues to operate. As we break this down, you will see a common pattern to this type of data in that it is typically gathered, input, stored and maintained by either you or your employees directly. While you may use platforms and databases to store the information, it would not necessarily exist if you were not in business.
External Data Assets
The second category is data that is created about or around your company from external sources.
The second category of data created about or around or tangential to your business is actually a far larger data set in most cases and we will discuss this in the next chapter. For now, it is important to understand the basic difference between the two because later, when we get into ownership rights and derivative use cases of data, each of these large groups has significantly different hurdles to usability in your data partnership strategy.
The process of identifying data assets, regardless of category, is one best done in stages. DataSmart Consulting highly recommends significant whiteboard space for the initial layout, followed by the use of either mind mapping software or a spreadsheet to begin documenting exact data types, field types, field characteristics, and notes on use and rights. Don’t get overwhelmed by this exercise as it should be fun and creative and it can be done as part of a team building session where many different divisions of the company should be represented. An invaluable program in this pursuit is iThoughts HD on the iPad. The diagrams included throughout are produced quickly and easily with this software and it synchronizes seamlessly to the cloud for easy collaboration across teams.
Collaboration to Identify Data Assets
It’s also important to take a collaborative approach to data asset identification across your organization. For example, many executives are unaware of what happens or what is tracked in all systems at a business. For example, corporate executives may not have an appreciation for the social media feeds of employees at a particular branch or retail location, but for many brands, that is a critical new way of engaging with high intent audiences. By collaborating with different team members, and inviting them to the whiteboard session, companies can ensure that they are maintaining an open access approach to data identification.
At DataSmart.Consulting, we will map out and identify all potential internal and external data assets. This isn’t a boring audit, it’s a proactive identification of value and potential partnerships.