Data Is a Business Driver; Manage It Effectively

By Karen Blackie

According to a recent Accenture/GE study, 89 percent of enterprises believe companies that don’t incorporate a big data analytics strategy by the end of 2015 will fall in market share value and momentum. And 87 percent believe it will redefine the competitive landscape by 2017.

It’s no secret that big data is shaping the way we do business, but managing and organizing data is an enormous responsibility. It also can be a frustrating process, especially when you’re managing data in a regulated environment such as a financial services firm or a government-owned organization.

How can organizations in highly regulated environments collect and process data quickly and accurately? The following four tips are crucial to keep in mind when you’re forming a new data management plan or assessing the effectiveness of your current plan.

Invest in innovative technology and stay current. It’s important to select the right platforms—ones that are scalable and flexible enough to support multiple uses across the firm. The demand for data and the complexity surrounding that data have reached unprecedented levels, as has the speed in which it needs to be delivered to the consumer. Therefore, IT organizations and their technologies need to be more nimble than ever before.

New and emerging technologies are often better at intelligently storing and organizing data than some of the more traditional platforms, but organizations shouldn’t dive in head-first without taking the proper introductory steps. They need to simplify existing business processes before introducing new technologies. This will reduce delays caused by system fragmentation or decentralization. Once you simplify, you’re ready to invest.

Speed is No.1. Organizations such as banks and financial services firms need to be able to react quickly and evaluate their portfolios at the press of a button, especially in times of stress or crisis. Technologies today need to be able to handle high volumes of data and calculate complex computations in a fraction of the time some currently take. Driving more machine-to-machine data transfers and eliminating manual touch points will increase the speed of delivery and reduce errors.

Don’t have it just to have it. Many of the data challenges that firms face today are often a result of data consumers with specific use-cases sourcing and storing their own data because they believe it’s easier or faster. Having good quality and well-managed centralized data not only provides better and holistic insights into customers, markets and risks, it also encourages a repurposing or sharing of data that ultimately eliminates multiple hours of reconciliations.

There are many benefits to a central strategy including better risk management, faster decision making, lower cost structures, etc. Plus, the creation of centralized data—where common definitions and taxonomies are shared across multiple parts of the business—allows data consumers to spend more time analyzing the data than searching for it.

Having the data central is only one part of the equation. You also need to make the user experience positive by making it easy for data consumers to acquire the data they need through a variety of self-service tools. This will drive faster adoption of the enterprise offering.

Make sure everyone is speaking the same language. Most organizations today face definitional challenges, meaning that when one person references something, it may have a completely different meaning to someone else. Publishing a data dictionary or taxonomy that is well-understood and in an easily accessible location ensures that everyone is operating with the same mindset.

Data must be treated as an asset—as the most valuable piece of collateral your enterprise holds. While this is a challenge in regulated environments, quick access to usable data is a necessity, and these tips will help make improvements on delivery without compromising the security of your data.

In order to protect your IT department from burning out in the future when it comes to data management, a dedicated and monitored user-centric architecture must be put in place now.

Karen Blackie is the CIO, Enterprise Data, at GE Capital.