Tag Archives: Data management

Data Strategy, high time to take action!

Way too many companies are still behind schedule, and have the utmost difficulties to set up such data strategies, especially in France. I have then decided to rely on my most significant successes from the past year to review and complete the operational scope of Data Elicitation.

The achievements :

  • The CWA, which makes me the only French data management expert who also is certified in digital analytics;
  • The success of the first Paris MeasureCamp, which I have been co-organizing, the biggest analytics event in France, which is due to happen again on June 27th 2015;
  • The patent validation process going on now at a European level, which validates even more my data management expertise;
  • Les multiples requests I have been addressing, from web analytics to strategic consulting, including text mining, data visualization and big data, many topics for many original inputs.

The restraints :

Still, working on data and digital policies has proved rather difficult; in fact, the restraints in implementing these strategies are clearly more structural than cyclical; McKinsey is summarizing the French situation in 4 items, in this study (only available in French…) published in the fall of 2014 :

  1. organisational issues, and namely the all-too famous vertical organization that I have reported here
  2. a lack of digital competencies
  3. a lack of financial leeway
  4. a lack of clear managerial involvement

The French State could certainly act more and better on two of these issues, education and business taxation. I shall develop more in detail the opportunities for public policies in the digital area in a future blog post.

The two other restraints that McKinsey have identified are more complex, as they are linked to the internal organization of the companies, as well as to their willingness to change.

In my eyes, the French companies have to overcome three biases, which harm their blooming in this data-driven world :

sujet négligeable

  1. Data (and digital) are very often second-class topics, which are handled after sales and financial issues of any kind, when there is time, so to say very rarely as a priority. The website? A necessary evil. Social networks? we have to be able to reach young people! Data management? Sure, we have a CRM. So many prejudicial and sweeping statements: data and digital are downgraded as cost centers, and absolutely ignored as growth drivers.désaccord dans le groupe
  2. Investing into a data strategy is often subject to collective decision, through a board or a project coordination, and seldom the will of a single person. Hence, as for most “collective” decisions, it often is the lowest bidder who wins, the most careful, the conservative. On top of this, the competition between various department, be they marketing, IT, finance or sales, generates a paralysis, where emulation would be required.information sous clef
    1. Finally, and that is a key subject, the various data owners still consider that exclusive information ownership grants them an additional share of power. What a mistake! at the very moment when an information is stored, it is losing all its value, as data only have a meaning as they are enriched by others and used for decision-making.

An example? Three departments, marketing, sales, finance. Three products, A, B and C. Marketing has done some research, and clearly A is the best product. Sales are positive, B is the best-seller. Finance has analyzed the ROI, and C definitely is the most profitable. So two options: the wild-goose chase, and then the quickest, or the most convincing one wins, or one share information in a transverse way, so as to ponder the best mix for the company. One certainly would wish the second option happened more often…

Wherever there are data, there should be first an analysis, then a decision process and eventually an assessment.

The outlooks :

These blocking points have led me to rethink what Data Elicitation core business should be in the short-term.

As a matter of fact, it is vain to try to convince some companies to work on their global data strategy, when they still are burdened by the restraints as depicted above, while they have not realized yet how large their potential could be. therefore, I have created some training modules, so as to make the concerned professionals aware of the necessity to think their data management in a transverse and global way.

You will then find on this website, under the header “training“, a description of modules dedicated to people training, into such topics as data management and analytics, both on the methodological level and through such concrete actions as database maintenance, data sourcing or quality assurance.

Or course, I shall keep on consulting at C-level and Executive levels, when they are willing to handle their most acute data strategy issues.

You know it all, now… Your comments and/or questions about those modules are highly welcome, as well as any suggested improvement.

Now, there only is one thing to do, e.g. share this blog post IMMODERATELY…

I hope to hear from you soon!

[cette note de blog en Français est ici]

Chief Data Officer, the position you have to afford

Good Lord! Another Chief something Officer… Do you really need one? Yes you do, and you had better not wait too long before hiring one.

Chief Data Officer is a rather new function, at least with such a responsibility at that level of seniority.
So why do you need such a role? There are two main reasons for driving your data strategy at C-level: the variety of the data and its strategic monetization.

data_ubiquityFirst, data is ubiquity. Nowadays, except perhaps for a few survivalists, everyone is creating and using data everywhere, every time and, most important, without any real limitation.

Data is so abundant, that no one can grasp it globally at a single glance any more; a minimum requirement is to handle it with the proper governance, an optimum organization requires a global strategy. Considering the amount of sources (sales and client support, accounting and finance, HR, competitive intelligence, product database, industrial processes, PII, social networks, to name a few), no one in the company may own solely all this data.

A dedicated Data manager definitely is key.

data_valueSecond, data is value. All these sources, with numerous records, and an ever-growing amount of attributes, imply that investing money on the market means checking data before, either to verify assumptions or even more straightforward, to find an already existing answer that you should not be paying for.

In a fierce and global competitive world, data is an incredible asset for the company, maybe the most important one, for sure the less exploited; many actions could be improved by a sound data management, including shutting down data management silos, really sharing information across business units. As data cannot belong to one or the other stakeholder, its management ought to be lead at the highest level, at C-level.

A dedicated Data officer definitely is key.

Who is this Officer in charge of Data Management? “Meet the Chief Data Officer” wrote Brad Peters, earlier in 2014, on the site of The Economist.

hiring CDOFinally, affording a CDO position is a unique way to drive growth. For sure, you have to “make room” for this new Officer, taking away from the BU’s a part of what they believe is their power, data ownership. A significant move, that must be initiated by the CEO. And, of course, you have to hire the relevant person for the job, with enough experience to drive a global data strategy, but also with a good mix of technical knowledge and business acumen, so as to implement it. No spring chicken by any means!

I would be glad to answer any question about the CDO role, and help you define its job description. And maybe you will discover that I am a rather good candidate…

Jumping over the data privacy fence to land on the optimization green grass? See the hurdle?

Back to school today. Back to work. But back to school also meant back to my desk and also to my usual good reads.

I have namely read this post today, “Beyond Privacy Exploitation Lies Huge Opportunity For Personal Data Optimization” by Max Kalehoff on MediaPost, and I believe he is going a bit quick from his own personal point of view to a more general standpoint. Nevertheless, it is a good starting point for a post about data collection management.

The general idea, e.g. people could share more data for a more optimized benefit, is nice, but only the first part is convincing, i.e. there still is a lot of unexploited data to share. As it lacks some proposal on how one could “optimize” personal data, here are some thoughts I have had on this topic.

Max’s story is nice, but his reasoning by induction is not correct. Not everyone is ready to share really personal data, like weight or daily burnt calories… Actually, this is most probably the reverse way… Such data would most probably be hidden as much as possible, and its distribution highly limited to the lowest number of people, e.g. to none but the data owner himself… A marketer may dream of openness in such a case, but unfortunately I think this is far from real life.

And still, should anyone be ready to share such very personal data, would the distribution list be very large? I doubt so… A few friends and relatives, some key helpers (a fitness coach, a Weight Watcher Leader…) and maybe a doctor, that would be it. The “challenge” idea is typical of someone leaving well with his/her weight, and only willing to lose a few pounds for a healthier life. Not the majority of people dealing with overweight (or with any other personal problem, that is). And most probably a very narrow minority, I guess.

But the idea remains of the highest interest: get passively collected data to create a huge database with a maximum of objectivity. The daily routine for Market Researcher operating in the Retail Panel Tracking, but very seldom when it comes to people. Why this? Because people are aware that they are being tracked, and this only fact introduces a bias (I remember the famous bias of Consumer Panels, where no woman would ever buy any feminine hygiene item, and no man any condom…). Where there is uneasiness or even shame, there will be no freely shared data. So what are we to do?

In this area, what is the absolute must? Not only the passivity of the data collection, but also the ignorance of the tracked people. The less they know they are tracked, the more objective the data. And no question. A marketer’s dream come true. Of course, this is very cynical, and dangerous for the company acting like this, as no panelist will be asked about their consent (or, blatantly, they would be aware they are being tracked…). If I refer to this post’s title, this would mean to reduce the privacy fence to its lowest height, so as to be able to walk over it, not even jump at all…

But this will not happen. The hurdle is high and will remain such. It is built by conduct codes, regulations, even laws, and may very difficulty be ignored. So tracked people ought to know their data are collected. And objectivity will be lost. How to get over this? Find people ready to share their data, have them on board of a panel with an opt-in clause, and run some analysis. A classical methodology to ensure privacy is not breached. The risk? A panel based only on clones of Max Kalehoff, introducing another bias, the will to be tracked…

So, is there no way to get over the fence? There are some of course. The cookies on the web are probably the most famous af all. Every website uses some. And they are (very) intrusive. And some people started to complain, and even to request they should be blocked or erased. A solution will be required here too for user targeting and browsing behavior optimization.

So Max, I do not have the solution either. Not yet… But I’m working on it.