Updated: Feb 19, 2020
Identifying and understanding your opportunity for growth using data
Data can be a powerful strategic tool, but it isn’t magic. It requires a strategy based on your business ambitions to determine what you need from your data to deliver value to the business.
Having worked with many SME’s over the years, we have developed a simple 5 step model to help you develop your data strategy.
Following these steps can help you build a plan and organise what needs to be done to support your business ambitions using data, as well as identifying the additional support and skills that may be required.
Opportunity is the first and most important step of building your data strategy - determining what actions are going to make the biggest impact, and having a prioritised plan to organise how you use data.
We believe that the key to a successful data strategy is being grounded in a business-first approach with all the stakeholders across the organisation focussed on a common objective.
Too often data strategy is purely the responsibility of the data scientist or equivalent resource who will typically start with the data they have access to, rather than starting with the business problem. This leads to analytical models being developed without the business context which makes them harder to implement, frequently resulting in the project failing.
Similarly, if a data strategy is championed by IT in isolation, we often see that the ambition for a ‘perfect’ infrastructure results in lengthy roadmaps not necessarily keeping up with the business changing needs. This then can result in data and systems frustrations from the business users.
By agreeing on a common objective across all key stakeholders, it becomes easier to plan a data strategy and roadmap that delivers against business requirements incrementally.
This will become your main focus for all of your data projects going forward. All data initiatives should ladder up to deliver against the common objectives that are defined in this first step of ORION
We have broken this down into keys modules to complete as a business
A : Be business first. Start with business ambitions
Where do you want to be in the next 3 years?
If you have a business strategy in place use this to articulate and expand on your ambition.
Use data to determine how you are going to achieve this ambition, what are the biggest opportunities for the business?
For example if it’s to grow the business by 10%
It is by :
Selling more products
Attracting more customers
Retaining the most valuable customers
Increasing product penetration
Increasing product range, etc...
Do you have the metrics and insight in your business today to breakdown the target to quantify each ambition.
For instance - how many customers do you need to acquire to hit the overall target? If these aren’t readily available, this becomes your first insight task (which we talk more about in Step 3 : Insight)
Useful data points here are previous sales trends, current market penetration, breakdown of new and existing customers, average transaction value and average product penetration.
Once you have quantified the ambitions and established the size of the task you’ll be in a position to determine how realistic it is or whether a significant step change is required.
B : How are you going to achieve the ambition?
Once you have established what your overarching ambition is and how you are planning to deliver against that ambition, you need to look at how each business area can support and activate the opportunities
This is where having a cross functional team really helps to decide, how the business is going to support the ambition and to get a better appreciation of the role each team brings to the strategies.
For an example a B2B service provider may focus on the following questions :
Product development - How can we increase the product usage for all customers?
Customer experience & engagement - Where can I improve the customer journey?
Go to market / sales - Which markets have the biggest opportunity?
These may be slightly different for your business.
C : How will data support you in achieving this?
In an ideal world, what data or insight would you need to answer the above questions?
Try not to get too technical here or get caught up with barriers to get the data - that comes in the next section. Just think what would be useful to know in order to answer the questions set out above and used to make informed decisions.
Following on from the previous ‘product development’ example it might be useful to have :
a better understanding of how the products are used by different customers groups
an understanding of where the pain points are within the customer journey
This provides the focus for what the data and technical teams will need to deliver.
D : What are the barriers to getting the data to support this?
This is often where data projects start to feel difficult and can start losing momentum as accessing the data you need to support the ambition might not be easily obtainable, can take too long to produce and doesn’t actually provide the insight you need.
Use this section to really determine what is stopping getting the data to answer the questions.
These might be different for the different groups within the room.
Not enough resource
Resource is too busy working on other things
The data doesn’t exist
We haven’t got the processes in place
Or is it:
We haven’t got the context of what we are being asked for
There is no appreciation within the business of what data is available or how difficult the request is
No-one owns data in the business
You don’t need to solve these barriers here just identify the themes as this will help to determine what are the jobs to be done in Step 4 : Operationalise.
E : Data strategy objective
The final part of this step is to determine what the overarching objective is for your data strategy.
This will reflect the current use of data within the business, building on what is required from data based on the previous sections and your desire to be more data driven.
For more support :
Download our template with guidance here, which will help document Step 1 : Opportunity.
Congratulations, you now have completed the first step of building your data strategy.
You have determined what your biggest opportunities are
Defined how you are going to support them across the business
Identified what data you would like in an ideal world
Determined the barriers to overcome to make that a reality
This can feel a big task but it will provide clarity around what the focus is for data and insights, enable you to use your data and technical resources more effectively and most importantly create a common objective for using data across the organisation.
We Are MoJo are dedicated to developing data strategies for SME’s to drive business growth. We can facilitate this approach through our ‘Explore’ process or by providing regular data strategy leadership through a resource subscription.
Get in touch to find out more - firstname.lastname@example.org