This fourth and final part of the series discussing The 4 Pillars of Change discusses Data. Data forms perhaps the least appreciated, least visible Pillar of Change. Data often is the very essence of many companies, particularly in today’s software/cloud/internet driven world, defining their very value.
Data descends from the word datum to refer to ‘an item given’ and is singular in forum. In plural, multiple ‘datums’ are referred to as data. In today’s world, “Data is most often used as a singular mass noun…” By now you’re likely bored to tears, and we are reminded why ‘data’ is so fondly pushed to the back of our minds ;).
Consider a company like Amazon. Amazon’s value proposition has branched out significantly in recent years. Yet their core business, connecting consumers with products, is completely dependent on the quality of their data. Take away their data, an abstract term describing the foundation of their knowledge (consumers, products, and their relationships), and their value proposition becomes little more than what a consumer may get in a visit to a hardware store across town.
Imagine: You drive to a hardware store you have never visited before. There are products in the store. You, the consumer are now there. But there are no established relationships and neither your or the product know of the other. Data, about you, about the products, defines relationships and value.
In your own business, successful change demands that your data is cared for, managed, every bit as carefully as the other Pillars of Change. Obvious examples include Contact lists, both internal and external. Dirty, unkempt databases mean marketing expenses wasted as you reach out to incorrect addresses, phone numbers, and email.
Less obvious, are the data that rarely sees the light of day. The data that enable your backend processes. And, how the data flows from one part of the company to another…and…to your business partners. Data is the breath that defines the nature of your relationships. If you don’t think relationships are important, see what happens when your data goes awry.
Data is both an asset and a liability to most companies. As an asset, data provides the very breath within your company’s systems, flowing from one process to another, from one organization to another.
As a liability, data management must also provide for its accessibility, preservation and security. These are addressed in complementary articles, such as Uncomfortable, Thinking About the Cloud? Part 1, and Part 2.
Every change effort, large or small, is typically gnarly, ugly, and more complicated than originally anticipated. This simple summary cannot convey the sophistication required by teams in order to be successful. JT can help.
Focusing on the 4 Pillars of Change helps ensure success. Most organizations focus their efforts on just one, sometimes two of the Pillars of Change. Success can only occur when the organization focuses, very deliberately, on all 4 Pillars of Change.