The effective use of data has emerged from its traditional home in IT to become the basis of competition.

Moreover, evolving data analysis means that every part of an organization can now rely on data-driven decision-making to drive operations, according to an article by Ernst & Young.

“Companies that invest in and successfully derive value from their data will have a distinct advantage over their competitors – a performance gap that will continue to grow as more relevant data is generated, emerging technologies and digital channels offer better acquisition and delivery mechanisms, and the technologies that enable faster, easier data analysis continue to develop,” the article notes.

The article describes how companies can use analytics to create a single view across an organization using reporting and data visualization to:

  • Collect, cleanse and normalize data from multiple systems
  • Gather external feeds of the latest research, benchmarks and other online repositories
  • Apply visualization to publish dashboards to management via smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices

“It is no longer enough for companies to simply understand current process or operations with a view on improving what already exists, when there is now the capacity to question if a process is relevant to the business, or whether there is a new way of solving a particular issue,” according to the article. “The key driver for innovation within organizations is to constantly challenge existing practices rather than consistently accept the same.”

The article suggests that company leaders address seven questions to assess the organization’s readiness for data-driven decision-making:

  • Does the organization have a governance framework in place that includes consistent guidance, procedures and processes for data capture and management?
  • Will the firm be able to put in place new technology to adequately manage large volumes of data from various sources that need to move at high speeds?
  • Doe the IT architecture support the data analysis strategy, and can it flexibly scale processing and storage?
  • Has the firm put into place the right talent with skills to process, model and interpret data analysis results, and does the culture support the new paradigm of data-driven decision-making?
  • Are the quality and monitoring parameters for big data in place, and are they sufficient to deal with unstructured data?
  • Is there a security policy in place that is restrictive enough to protect the growing volume of data used to drive operational decisions, but yet flexible enough to drive innovation?
  • How will the organization ensure the privacy of personal information?

“The increased use of big data challenges the traditional frameworks for protecting the privacy of personal information, forcing companies to audit the implementation of their privacy policies to ensure that privacy is being properly maintained,” the article points out. “Have you defined who owns big data information, and whether there is actual or implied consent to use the same?”

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