Big Thinks is the Digital Magazine of the Global Mastermind Group

The events this year forced senior leaders to change focus, reprioritize, and be rapidly resilient.  We continually evolve, but the landscape is fluid, so decisions are made faster and more often.  Companies have turned to data to fast-track the process and enhance their decision making.

Given that shift, alignment is crucial. The perpetual state of drowning in data but starving for insights is no longer acceptable.  As senior leaders, we have always known that data and people are a company’s greatest assets.  Now more than ever, it is crucial to create a data-driven culture that facilitates getting data into the hands of people to empower them in their jobs and enable employees to improve the customer journey with every contact along the customer journey.

For this to work, getting the data into the hands of employees cannot be the only goal.  The integrity of the data is equally important for successful outcomes.  The adoption of emerging technologies such as blockchain and robotic process automation is empowering the hospitality industry to gather real-time actional data throughout the organization.

The problem for many organizations is that the workforce has drastically changed.  In an era of distributed workforces and boundless jobs, getting data to employees in an accessible but secure way is challenging.  A centralized data model balances the needs of multiple stakeholders while increasing the Return on Investment (ROI) on that data.

“With the evaporation of the technical perimeter due to the need to access information anywhere in the world, from any device, at any time, companies are being pushed towards a more data-centric view of security. While creating a single source of the truth for a potential threat actor may be creating a tempting target, centralizing that data into a single location not only increases opportunities to apply advanced data analytics/AI techniques but also permits the concentration of security investment/resource/control on that datastore.”

David Jordan, SVP Chief Information Security Officer, IHG

5 Ways Centralizing Data Builds Resilient Data-Driven Cultures

1. Improves Data Governance

Globally, Legislation continues to tighten around personal data governance.  By creating centralized data repositories, companies can better protect the data and the integrity of the data.   Access rights can be controlled, and access points monitored, reducing the risk of theft and mishandling of the data.  And just as important, the risk of having duplicate data is eliminated, further improving data governance.

2. Eliminates Data Silos

“In Advanced Data Analytics, you have two sides of the problem, the Data Quality, and the Model Performance. When you reduce the risk of the Data Sources and reduce the Data Silos, as a Data Scientist, your only focus will be to choose the right algorithm for the business problem you want to sort out.”  

Diego Vallarino, Ph.D., Chief Data Science, Scotiabank Uruguay

Historically, data collection and control was subject to the company’s employee hierarchy and organizational structure, which led to data silos.  Departments build up their data repositories mostly in local databases and update them inconsistently and infrequently.  Over time the integrity of the data begins to deteriorate.  And without a consistent agreed upon framework of what data should be collected, it creates a need for ongoing reconciliation.

According to Gartner’s Data Quality Market Survey, there is a significant financial cost of having poor data quality.  Centralizing data improves the integrity and value of the data collected.  Senior IT Leaders can design high integrity systems that provide real-time updates and insights into a broader set of data points for making decisions.  More importantly, centralizing the data prevents limiting the reach of relevant data to only a small group of employees.

3. Creates a Self-Service Data Center and a Competitive Advantage

The right Business Intelligence Strategy can be game-changing for a business and the ultimate competitive advantage.

According to the Forbes Insights and Qlik (2016) study done pre-COVID:

  • 64% of business leaders say self-service business intelligence creates significant competitive advantages
  • 67% of the business leaders say self-service business intelligence will be incredibly valuable for finance
  • 61% of the business leaders say self-service business intelligence will be incredibly valuable for sales
  • 60% of the business leaders say self-service business intelligence will be incredibly valuable for marketing
  • 60% of the business leaders say self-service business intelligence will be incredibly valuable for compliance

Fast forward four years, the combination of advancements in technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) combined with Natural Language Processing (NLP) has elevated the value of the data.  As Senior Leaders, we have a tremendous opportunity to elevate ourselves and our team’s capabilities and positive outcomes by leveraging Business Intelligence (BI) tools in a self-service environment.

When data is centralized, management makes decisions based upon data insights derived from one source of truth.  Tools like Microsoft SharePoint, Jira, and Tableau allow management to use dashboards utilizing timely, consistent, relevant, and accurate data for decision making. These tools enable our employees to make better decisions by combining internal and external data sources like competitive analysis, industry trends, economic and market conditions.

Platforms with AI/BI capabilities allow for predictive analysis. These new systems highlight areas that the user can drill down and further expand, to gain clarity and create actions to address the problems.  Predictive analysis allows the user to do scenario analysis to visualize potential outcomes of planned decisions. 

“Since there is so much data gathered on a minute by minute basis these days, systems that can help all types of users better understand what they are observing and then help point out actions that could be taken to address the problems, are inherently valuable for any enterprise with as varied a geography and user community such as IHG.” 

Jeff Edwards, SVP Global Head of Hotel and Owner Solutions at Intercontinental Hotels Group 

4. Improves Revenue by Facilitating Inclusive Interpretation of Data

The democratization of data will ultimately enhance the quality of decision making.  When data is centralized, a more diverse group has access to interpreting this data, analyzing it through different lenses, asking different questions, and drawing more comprehensive conclusions.

Diversity drives innovation and creativity.  This is no different when data is analyzed.  Breaking the siloed thinking will result in a broader group of views considered.  The interpretation of the data is meaningful not only for one group but for a much broader group.

5. Creates an Enterprise-wide Strategy Powered by Centralized Data

When data is centralized, companies can create an enterprise-wide data strategy. The enhanced ability to identify opportunities to further enrich the data strategy, by adding additional data sources (like alternative data or complementary data), optimizes the use of the data.  We can create better business outcomes and better outcomes for our customers.

Leading the Transformation to a Data-Driven Resilient Company

Gartner predicts that by “2023, data literacy will become an explicit and necessary driver of business value, demonstrated by its formal inclusion in over 80% of data and analytics strategies and change management programs.”  The skill gap is only widening, and it is up to every one of us to focus on reskilling to remain relevant and to stop the widening skill gap. It is up to us, as Senior Leaders, to lead the transformation of culture, mindset, and reskilling needed for getting buy-in at all levels to embrace building an optimized Data-Driven Culture.

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