Business Intelligence requires a clear Data Strategy – but who is responsible?

To any organisation that takes its data seriously and understands its value, Business Intelligence (BI) will not be a new concept. Analytics underpins effective decision making and value exchange occurring in digital ecosystems, and, for this reason, it persistently remains the number-one investment area within “IT”.

Unlike the more traditional and easily defined areas of IT, such as service desk or IT infrastructure, there seems to be very little consistency when deciding where BI sits within an organisation. The knee-jerk reaction would be to say IT, and many organisations follow this model. However, we need to ask whether this is the most effective solution. To establish where BI should sit we also need to understand who actually owns the data, and who owns the strategy.

Data, tools and people have always been logical and structured; not any longer. There is a new breed of analyst that needs to adapt, but so does the organisation's approach to asking questions of data, as well as getting involved in the answering of its own questions. Remember, while the past is a good predictor of the future, beware that in disrupted businesses that it may invalidate your data strategy.

If we look back to our original question, ‘Who owns your data strategy?’ it is clear that this is a complex issue. If you are struggling to answer this question yourself, you are in good company. In truth, there is no definitive answer. Whilst IT are natural custodians of data, they don’t create the data itself. Departments like finance, marketing, sales, etc. create the data. Every company will have different business strategies, different data available and a different organisational structure; the ownership of data strategy will differ accordingly. A measured approach needs to be taken and the relevant departments need to contribute to an overall strategy. 

What we can conclude, however, is that by understanding the potential value of available data, engaging with stakeholders across the business and aligning with business priorities, we can define effective, target-driven data strategy ownership. By doing this we will ultimately be in position to transform how we engage with data and begin to reap the rewards.

As organisations begin to realise and harness the true value of data, they should look to innovate their current processes by attracting and hiring external talent that can advise, consult and guide them through transformation. Companies should not limit themselves to a pool of talent specific to their sector as by copying the competition one is, by definition, behind them.