The bingo card

In business, we quite often fall victim to popular terms. Buzzwords that you can fill a nice bingo card with, but whose meaning is not infrequently unclear and therefore usually not fully understood. However, that ‘flavour of the day’ often does determine the conversation and sometimes even policy and strategic choices. 

In conversations with clients, I often talk about the importance of data. Clients then regularly indicate that they would like to see their company or organisation become data-driven. A digital transformation to monetise digital information. In short, people want to start leveraging data. But when I ask what data-driven means and what impact it will have on business processes, people are at a loss to explain. The focus is mainly on the desire to innovate, often prompted by the fear of missing the boat and therefore losing the competitive battle. It proves difficult to put into words exactly what is meant by a data-driven company and what effects this has on the organisation.

As an entrepreneur I fully understand this and will also occasionally make quick choices based on trends. Nothing is alien to me, and doesn’t the plumber’s house have a leaking tap? Nevertheless, it is important to think carefully about why you make certain choices before you allow yourself to be carried away on the waves of the market. Thinking carefully beforehand, about what you want with data and why, will ultimately make the transition easier.

Companies work with an endless amount of data: customer data, commercial data, financial data, you name it. All that data plays a role in business processes. But those same business processes also edit and change the data. Think: data enrichment, data aggregation, data classification, data distribution - in sequence, simultaneously or (worse) interchangeably. So, to get a grip on your processes, you will first need to understand what is happening with the data. And when you understand these data dynamics, you can start to control the data. It is like the old consultancy wisdom: measuring is knowing, if you know what you are measuring. And once you know what you are measuring and are in control, you can start thinking about leveraging your knowledge.

A complicating factor in data dynamics is data protection. Data protection regulations impose restrictions on data exploitation. But by executing your processes meticulously and setting up controls properly, there is more room to play than you think. Structural implementation of data protection ultimately cuts both ways. The rules do what they are meant for - protecting privacy and reducing risks to rights and freedoms - and all the data controls you apply increase the quality of the processes.

The most important step towards becoming a data-driven organisation and leveraging data is process control. It's about getting a grip on the data. Because everyone knows: when your numbers are in line, you will hit bingo.

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