What’s your data strategy missing?

By Joe Hewitson

Your insights are only as good as the data behind them. Is your data strategy capable of finding the diamonds in the rough? With all the fancy technology at your disposal these days, that question has become more pertinent than ever. Never before has it been possible to capture so much data from such a wide range of sources. Though technology is speeding along at an incredible pace, it’s important to make sure that the data strategies you employ can keep up.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will give you a better idea of where your strategy stands:

1. Do you have open access to all your internal data?

This goes without saying, but your data is largely useless if you can’t find it. No, we’re not talking about the mere knowledge of where a specific data set might be hibernating, but rather, could you locate it on the road? In a plane? How about in the middle of that all-important sales meeting?

Too many organizations bury their all-important data in siloed data warehouses that can only be accessed by certain devices or through very specific applications. Data is not secure or useful if it’s scattered across multiple places. By bringing all the data together in a secure location, you can use it to its fullest potential and offer maximum value.

Technology has provided ample opportunities to not only gather data from anywhere in the world, but also to access it in many places. Does your data strategy include the mobile infrastructure and mobile app development to empower users with data-driven insights anytime, anywhere?

2. Are you tapping the right external sources?

Internal data is often an easy aspect for your data strategy to focus on. After all, with internal sources, you have absolute control over the inputs, outputs and just about every data parameter. With external sources, your strategy requires a bit more flexibility.

When it comes to external sources, it’s easy to take the path of least resistance. This means users typically pursue those that are easy to integrate, even if they might not be the most meaningful. Though being inclusive about your data sources isn’t necessarily a bad idea, organizations need to be careful that they don’t bite off more than they can chew.

Fortunately, in an age where APIs are so commonplace, fine-tuning data strategies to incorporate all types of information from social media posts to customer feedback has never been easier. With an efficient, high-level data strategy and a dash of automation, the issue becomes less of a matter of choosing the right external sources and more of a matter of casting a wide-enough net.

3. How are you handling unstructured data?

Speaking of external data sources, you may have noticed that a lot of data out in the wild comes in a less-than-ideal form: unstructured data. In fact, roughly 80 percent of the data around us is in an unstructured format. For example, consider social media posts. Your customers have plenty to say about you and the industry you serve, but they probably don’t say it in the same language your database speaks.

It makes sense, then, that your data strategy would include a way to abstract useful insights from the fluff. With unstructured data, this means one of two things: mapping these typically text-heavy objects into more structured forms, or extracting useful elements directly. Regardless, your strategy needs to maintain a consistent approach to feeding wild data into your workflows.

Ensuring your data strategy covers all relevant data and sets the foundation for greater insights really boils down to a few basics. Your ability to tap into the right sources, pipe it into your environment in a meaningful way and let users leverage it when and where they need it most are the keys to success. Orienting your strategy in a way that checks these boxes will free up your data to reveal insights and drive success.

This article was originally published on Mobile Business Insights.