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PHOTO: Bethany Legg

Organizations today run on data. Data has the power to drive everything from product development to marketing, delivering critical insights needed to steer departments and entire organizations forward. With more and more data becoming available every day, businesses have burgeoning opportunity to operate swiftly and strategically — but only if they know how to use data.

Because of the sheer volume of data available today, organizations can become paralyzed by the opportunity afforded by all the information at hand. Unsure of what data to store or leverage, businesses seek out solutions and guidance about how to best manage their data. But the number of solutions available is almost as overwhelming as the volume of data businesses collect. Organizations are left wondering what data management solutions and advice are viable in a market that’s undergoing constant change due to the rise of new technologies, new regulations and new business circumstances. 

To get to the bottom of this question, here are a few examples of bad data advice that you should ignore.

Bad Advice: Let IT Handle Data

In the early years of modern data collection and analysis, companies let the IT department handle data because IT professionals were the only ones with the skills to synthesize information and generate complicated data analysis reports.

That policy made sense back then, but today employees across departments are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, and data outputs are becoming simplified and diversified. Those trends, along with the emergence of new tools designed for non-IT users, have made data accessible to everyone and available for use by all. Businesses should take advantage of this and empower employees throughout the organization to become citizen data scientists who analyze data and extract insights that can be used to drive innovation.

Companies that continue to rely on IT to handle data will find that progress could be significantly stalled.

Related Article: The One Metric Every Data Team Needs to Remember

Bad Advice: Keep Everything

Storage is so cheap these days that some companies may decide to keep all of their data.

On the surface, this sounds like a great idea; after all, you never know when you might need a certain piece of information. However, it’s an accepted truism that more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the human race, and the relentless increase in the volume of data makes it more and more challenging to manage data and glean valuable information from it.

Beyond that, even though storage is cheap, keeping every bit of data can be costly and storing vast amounts of data in your systems can lead to compliance nightmares. 

Storage may be inexpensive for some organizations, but it is not free, and it can be quite expensive for those in highly regulated industries. In today’s regulatory climate, companies must be choosy about the data they collect and keep, or they could find that remaining in compliance with rules and regulations becomes a big challenge. Regulations like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have detailed rules for data use and management, and in many cases organizations are expected to destroy data that is not pertinent to their business and avoid collecting certain types of data altogether.

To evaluate what data to keep and what data can (or should) be tossed, organizations need to constantly evaluate their needs, create active inventories of data and protected data, and make smart, strategic decisions about which information is going to actually deliver value.

Related Article: Data Ingestion Best Practices

Bad Advice: Implement the Strategy First

Having a sound data strategy is a key element of running a successful business, but in today’s always-connected, 24/7 business world, organizations cannot risk losing opportunities because they’re tied up in lengthy strategy planning cycles. What’s more, with the speed of business accelerating and with new technologies entering the market every day, what’s relevant today may not be relevant a month from now, so time spent on strategy may become time wasted very quickly

Organizations should strive for a balance between strategy and execution. And data should be a key driver of both, delivering value and informing organizational goals on an ongoing basis. However, employees should also make sure that setting goals does not get in the way of executing strategy. Instead, they should constantly be thinking critically about business needs, reassessing goals based on a mixture of their existing knowledge of what works in the business, maintaining a view of data and processes currently in place and driving the business with the new insights the data yields.

With all of the tools and information available to help organizations collect, understand and manage data, organizations have no excuse not to be smart and strategic when determining how to use information to meet their goals. To do this effectively, they must turn data into a non-siloed, organizationwide resource that can be used to meet specific departmental needs while still being managed in a compliant, cost-effective way that steers the organization forward.