Data means business: A practical guide for business leaders who want to learn how to use data strategically

Last Published: Aug 17, 2023 |
Susan Wilson
Susan Wilson

GVP North America Solutions Leader 

data means business

Having spent the better part of my career in the data space—14 years with Pfizer as Director of Global Data Management, and now 9 years with Informatica as VP of Data Governance—data is clearly an area I’m passionate about.

So I was intrigued when I heard that someone who I think very highly of—Barry Green, a seasoned Chief Data Officer—had co-authored a book on the subject.

The book, Data Means Business, has been written as a practical guide for business leaders who want to learn how to use data strategically.

It couldn’t have come at a more exciting time, as advancing technology empowers us with an unprecedented opportunity to see data for the many benefits it can provide. Benefits such as visibility, transparency, and insights for decision making which support individuals, teams, business functions and businesses in achieving their goals.  

Once only an advantage for the technically minded, the democratization of data now means it can be shared with everyone from the C-suite to the frontline; served up in clear and concise formats requiring zero technical aptitude.

We’re starting to see the impacts of this across all industries, and the ways data can be speedily and efficiently shared and used to enable real business change.

Scientists who can rapidly access new data insights can deliver better solutions faster than ever before. Folks in finance who have never been able to make sense of cross-functional data now can access and use it to make decisions that boost the company’s bottom line. 

What’s potentially most exciting about the democratization of data is how it unlocks relationships. It connects people across different business functions on topics that are intrinsically linked. Teams collaborate for the benefit of the whole, and find it much easier to identify areas of improvement and opportunities for revenue generation.

The aha moment

Data Means Business is guaranteed to give you plenty of those “aha moments”, which is something I love to see when people in business grasp the monumental impact that data can have on the work they do.

Another area that’s sure to inspire is how quickly you can get up and running when you adopt certain techniques and mindsets around data transformation.  

Barry is a great advocate of starting small and scaling fast, and using data governance to lay strong foundations for success.  

I wholeheartedly agree. Data governance shines a light on a business’s highest priorities and shows you where to find quick wins. If we get wrapped up in orienting on a solution for a business function that can take months or years to fully implement, we miss the chance to grab these quick wins and deliver on outcomes that provide meaningful value.

Whereas if you put together data standards and data quality rules, you focus and align teams with common goals and objectives and can achieve incremental improvements that have real business impacts.

Lastly, data governance builds muscle memory in how teams work together and use data. This cultivates a data culture because, where we have top-down governance, we find data culture naturally starts building from the bottom up.

Data governance delivers real results

As a global leader in enterprise cloud data management, we’ve been privileged at Informatica to witness the outstanding results effective data governance can have on an organization firsthand.

At our recent 2021 Innovation Awards, we recognized companies across a range of industries including Unilever, Biogen, American Airlines, Providence, Anthem, and Celcom.  All were selected due to their inspiring utilization and vision for data governance.

For example, Celecom has improved data-driven decision making by 30X through higher quality, governed data.

Blake Andrews, Corporate Vice President of Data Strategy, Governance and Enablement at New York Life Insurance Company also told us, “Since launching Axon Data Governance in March 2019, we’ve documented over 2,300 glossary terms used throughout our enterprise. We’ve captured insights from nearly 425 data repositories across cloud and on-premises from nearly 50 systems, highlighting 8,270 attributes. This scale of our enterprise data governance program has delivered untold value to New York Life in saving our teams time and energy while creating consistency and synergies across our organization.”

Data Means Business is a must read for anyone in business who wants to realize results such as these and gain the tools to get their data transformation underway.

I applaud Barry Green and Jason Foster for writing the book, and look forward to hearing how leaders are applying it in their workplace.

If you haven’t read it, you can grab a copy of Data Means Business on Kindle or in paperback here.

First Published: May 13, 2021