The data foundation: The key to future-proofing your data strategy

Strategic Portfolio Management
Jeppe Salmonsen
Principal Consultant, BI & Analytics

When it comes to data, more is more, but context is everything.

Loads of companies want to become data-driven, yet they struggle with the most essential parts. With the right data strategy, being data-driven is almost infinitely scalable. And it all requires two things:

  1. Having enough data to create a strong data foundation
  2. Understanding which questions to ask and putting the data into context and presenting it in ways that help answer those questions.

In order to unfold what that means for your organization, we’ve created the data pyramid.

The data pyramid

The data pyramid is a visualization of how an organization can leverage data to answer business questions, optimize processes, and execute strategy.

Your data strategy is dependent on a strong data foundation, that is collecting and storing data in your organization – the right data, in the right way. It is the number one factor in ensuring that your data strategy is future-proof. With a strong data foundation, the different levels of the pyramid will become easier to reach.

Creating your data foundation: future-proof your data strategy

Ensuring a solid data foundation is the first step to ensuring your organization in the future. A data foundation is essentially a centralized solution, that stores all your data in a safe and accessible way.

Creating a data foundation does require some work in identifying data sources and choosing the best data storage solution. However, there is value to be had in mapping out all the places in your organization where information or data could be hiding as it will bring you deeper knowledge about the workings of your business and teams. Then your database solution should consolidate data and integrate with the identified sources and tools used in the organization.

Current Status: take action

The first step in any data strategy is getting an overview of the current status of projects, portfolios, or initiatives. The trick here is identifying the queries and questions that provide the most accurate insight into the organization so actions and decisions can be put into effect in the best possible way. This could be information on a number of projects, their current status, etc. to create an overview using data from multiple sources.

Getting the right overview can take some trial and error, according to the needs of the organization. But it’s worth it. According to a recent study by MIT, those who are good at creating the right overview of their data outperform those who aren’t.

This is where a solid data foundation will come in handy as it makes it more flexible to change views or incorporate new data. With a solid data solution, the organization becomes much more flexible and can provide data even when questions change.

Power Hub details
“Getting the right overview can take some trial and error”

Historical Trends and snapshots: the current status in context

When your organization has gained experience in utilizing data from the current status, you’re ready to include historical trends and snapshots.  This allows you to put the current numbers into context and evaluate your current strategy.

Some organizations include this step too late and by the time they’re ready to leverage the value of historical data they find that they don’t have any! That’s why we recommend a data solution that always captures historical data. This ensures that the historical data is ready for you, the moment your organization is ready.

Insights: leverage data to optimize processes

The current status and historical trends let you tap into whether or not you’re executing strategy. Insights let you look at how the strategy is executed.

The trick is to read between the lines, thereby deriving data in new ways that can create unique insights. This could be information that reveals how people use the system, are we following business processes, potential bottlenecks, or time gaps that can be red flags.

Again, this can only be done from a data foundation where multiple data sources are consolidated and can be combined into insights.

“The trick is to read between the lines, thereby deriving data in new ways that can create unique insights.”

Predictions: take preemptive action

The tip of the data triangle is predictions. Here you can use AI and machine learning to get into the deep parts of data, recognizing patterns and applying them to the future. The key is to have large data sets to feed your AI in order to optimize its accuracy.

With the right model, you can start predicting the future status of your projects. For example, it can identify a pattern where projects that go 30% over budget in phase 3 usually fail, and then flag these project for preemptive action.

AI is the future – but it requires data, so get ready now.

Information is nothing without action.

No matter where you are in the data triangle it’s essential to ask the questions that allow you to act. Any layer on the triangle can provide value if it means you can identify red flags or patterns that can help you execute your business strategy.

However, every single step on the data triangle is dependent on having a solid data foundation. This is what gives you the flexibility to grow and change as an organization. Don’t be afraid of too much data. If you store more data than you need today, then it will be ready for you tomorrow.

The Power Hub is your data time machine

We created the Power Hub to be a strong data foundation. It is a centralized database that can consolidate data from multiple sources and store it safely while still being accessible for reports and auditing. Its power lies in being able to access both current and historic data as well as recreating lost data. These features will become essential when moving up the data triangle. It allows you to mature as you go.

With the Power Hub, you can create snapshots, baselines, trend analysis, and advanced analytics with real-time synchronized data. Just pick a historical point in time of interest, and Power Hub will provide the data.

And, of course, if you use the Power Hub, historical data recording is turned on from day one, so you’ll always be able to leverage historical data at any granularity. Power Hub lets you store today’s data for tomorrow’s requirement.

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Jeppe Salmonsen
Principal Consultant, BI & Analytics

Jeppe is the creator of Power Hub, the professional data platform for advanced business analytics. He’s the leading expert in BI and Data Analytics, drawing on more than 18 years of experience in optimizing data analysis as well as incorporating new tools like machine learning & AI to unlock the full value of organizational data.

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