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Data as a Digital Asset (Due to Digitization and Globalization)

by Jodee Hale-Schmid

July 6, 2010

Authored by:  David Kuketz, EIM Client Partner – Southeast, Utopia, Inc.

Data has become the single greatest concern of C-level executives, lines of business directors, department managers, customers, and suppliers. Investing in your data is as important as investing in newer, faster computers, networks, or more sophisticated business applications.

Over time, as the number of users in the IT landscape have increased and the complexity of business processes has exploded, the value of data has increased also; think of the “ages” (industrial, information, extended enterprise, business webs, extreme collaboration) and think of “kinds” of data (commerce, transactional, product, technical, persuasive). Think about your data that is “structured” and “unstructured”. This multi-dimensional “space” is difficult to navigate and optimize, but not impossible.

Great companies are built to make money, to increase shareholder wealth, to provide a humanitarian advancement, to make the environment cleaner, to sustain them. There are many reasons for business, but one thing is clear, the organism, the ecology, the environment within which companies thrive (or fail) is more complex, faster, more interconnected, more extended, more collaborative than ever before.

Very intelligent people have invented metrics so they can manage what can be measured. You can measure the “goodness” of one company versus another or the degree of efficiency of use of assets, the productivity of its management and employees, the amount of equity versus debt, and so on. There are many ratios used to examine whether a company is operating well or not. Companies invest their resources to improve those ratios.

They also maintain their assets, train their people, organize, and connect their departments in efficient ways, to help do things better, faster, and cheaper. Companies buy new computers and new enterprise applications like ERP, EAM, CRM and SRM, or employ new strategies or engage in new ways of thinking that result in more efficient business.

But, as is very often the case, companies forget to invest in their data. Time after time, the old data is moved from the legacy systems that are being decommissioned into the new upgraded, enhanced, consolidated system “as-is”. This is like taking old fuel from an old car and putting it into a new racing machine – simply crazy.

Data is information when it is relevant, retrievable, and actionable intelligently by those who rely on it. Data by itself in a can has little value. But, when that content (or data) is used multiple times by lots of people across a broad network of interconnected webs, then that content becomes extremely valuable. Yet, like a virus, if it is toxic, that data can do more harm than good.

So, think about what you might do to improve your data while or before you embark on a $50,000,000 IT system upgrade, and you might find that spending just a little more will reduce your project risk, increase the potential total ROI, reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO), and actually help you achieve the benefits the IT system upgrade promises.

If the data is complete, current, correct and comprehensive, then it will continue to provide value for as long as it is relevant to your business, and your extended business. Data is a business asset – invest in it wisely.

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