My data is a mess. What do I do?

Trust me, your Data is probably a bit of a mess. 

If your company is like most companies, you have viewed software like a tool.  And each process in your business is either done manually, or is accomplished by getting a program or service that is the right tool for that job.  This sounds pretty good.  So what is wrong with this system?

“If each one of those decision-makers had a precise understanding of how the information and decisions of other departments intersected with their own, wouldn’t their decisions be more informed and essentially better?”

Problem #1 – Data Confusion.  After several years of using multiple independent systems to accomplish seemingly unrelated tasks, and guided by a general sense that you need to keep “backups” of your data for some amount of time, your company has an information mess.  You have large amounts of files and other data, some current, some historic, stored in multiple locations, and with no fast or reliable system in place to access useful information, and no efficient way to tell  what data is important and what data is not useful.  You need a company-wide system that:

  • ensures that you collect all of the information you should
  • avoids collecting and storing data that has a low potential to be useful, and
  • allows the data to be viewed, evaluated, and used as one coordinated set of information, rather than multiple, incompatible, seemingly unrelated information sets.

To solve this problem, your company must proactively establish a Data Architecture Plan in order to unify the collection, storage, and accessibility of the information your business needs to succeed.  Emergent Intelligence can assist you on the journey from Data Confusion to Data Strategy

Problem #2 – Reality – Your Business Tasks are Connected.  Most businesses thrive as they scale through specialization.  As a small startup, one or two people may do absolutely everything.  At some point, business success makes this unmanageable (hooray!), and additional employees are hired, divisions are formed, and the business naturally evolves into a series of connected departments, each an expert at its own domain.  Many departments operate with relative autonomy giving rise to the impression that they are independent entities that connect only where necessary.  For this reason, decisions about information, software, platforms, and processes are generally developed internally by each department, and the connection between them is considered after the fact, if ever.

The Date Revolution is forcing companies to re-examine this operating philosophy.  Although it is true that many of the specialized tasks completed in a specific department have little direct impact on the tasks completed in another department, it is not true that the information at the root of each task is not related.  Understanding and leveraging this connection is essential for any business that wants to thrive in the marketplace of tomorrow.

HR decisions, product pricing, sales cycles and forecasting, purchasing decisions and supply costs, etc.  These are all examples of individual tasks that can easily be viewed as independent and discrete decisions well within the domain of one department.  But it does not take a very deep dive to start to see how they might impact each other, or how they might, in reality, be very connected.  Once these connection are correctly identified, if each one of those decision-makers had a precise understanding of how the information and decisions of other departments intersected with their own, wouldn’t their decisions be more informed and essentially better?

Well, now what?

If you have determined that your Company Data Strategy could use some improvement, the best next step is an Information Architecture Analysis.  This is a thorough snapshot that includes:

  • What information you are currently collecting,
  • What method you are using to collect it, and
  • How you are storing it.

Once you understand your current Data Landscape, you can make informed decisions regarding:

  • Collecting information you are currently missing,
  • Shedding useless data,
  • Identifying company-wide data connections, and
  • Archiving data in the best way possible for future use, and

You may find that you have been more forward thinking and proactive than most.  You may find that the process of connecting your data and getting it to work as one complete system is easier than it sounds.  But until you conduct a thorough analysis, you may be missing critical connections and insights.  Connect with Emergent Intelligence if you would like a free consultation.

In a future post, I will address the Strategy of Collecting and Storing Date for Future Use, which is itself a very interesting topic.  Until then, keep thinking Data!


Jason Kuczek is an Entrepreneur, Data Scientist, and Strategic Analyst that specializes in harnessing data and automation to help create high-functioning business ecosystems.