As a child, the arrival of the Easter holidays was always an exciting time for me. The Easter Egg hunts were particularly exciting. Before the hunt I usually had an idea of where the eggs could be hiding but was never 100% sure until I started looking for them and quickly realised it wasn’t going to be as straightforward as I initially thought!

This leads perfectly onto the fact that most organisations think they know exactly where their data is stored and quite often think that they can retrieve it as and when required, however it can be a very different story once they start searching for it.

Some examples of common issues many organisations face when trying to find their data are:

  • Trying to contact the right people to help retrieve the data
  • Dealing with large volumes of unstructured data held across multiple data stores
  • Being confronted with multiple versions of the same data sets
  • Data held outside corporate systems, perhaps on removable hard drives in cupboards
  • Difficulty in extracting and presenting the data sets in a logical fashion

Organisations are dependent on its data to optimally manage their activities and make the best informed decisions at the right time. To prevent some of the above issues and avoid a painfully slow and costly data hunt we should consider having in place:

  • Data Specifications – Specific requirements detailing the data needed by the organisation
  • Data Design – A common format of data structure that meets the specification requirements
  • Master Data Source – Having a master data source that defines links to other systems that require data
  • Data Governance & Control – Good Data flow management, avoiding data silos and duplication
  • Systems & Processes – Utilising technology and defining data management processes

There is also currently a lot of talk of Big Data and the revolution it will have in predictive analytics, in reality many organisations are still having trouble patching together their small data. To truly benefit from big data, we must also explore the limits of small data. You can gather and analyse big data sets to the point of madness but still not know what to do with it, it’s just more and more data for data’s sake. Too often, we get so excited about the technologies that we forget to ask the simple but important questions, such as:

  • What data already exists?
  • What is the quality of existing data?
  • What data do we need to collect?
  • Why are we collecting and analysing this data? and does it support the organisational data requirements and objectives?
  • How are we going to collect the data? – Is there a strategy for collecting the data and translating it into useful information?

So maybe it’s time for us to get our heads out of the ‘Data Cloud’ and apply time and resource to first figuring out what’s relevant.

At DPA we help develop pragmatic solutions that help embed sustainable approaches to the management of data, particularly for asset intensive organisations – Contact us to see how we can help assist in managing your data to maximise your benefits, so you can concentrate on the more important task of hunting for Easter Eggs instead!

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