The Data Management Imperative: Business Initiative Alignment

Bring your data management program out of the

IT back office and into the enterprise spotlight


By Anita Filippi

The job of a data management professional is a tough one. How do you get ahead of the curve to build out the foundational components of an analytic ecosystem and still serve the immediate, and ever-changing, needs of the organization? The answer lies in the enterprise business initiatives. Align the work of the data management program to the enterprise business initiatives and become a part of what the company already has committed to and cares about.

At this point in the year you’re likely deep into 2016 planning. It’s a safe bet that on one side of your desk is a long list of projects you know you must do to be ready for the future, while on the other side is the list of projects from the enterprise portfolio that need your support. For leaders in data management, the pressure is on. Data is coming in through every channel and in every format. Analysts and data scientists want access to all of that data to help drive insights, competitive advantage and the customer experience to new levels. The tendency is to “go get it all” and get it fast. You know it’s important to get it right. You may be tempted to name an IT project or suite of projects to mature the foundation of your data management program. After all, you’re going to need certain capabilities no matter what the business specifically requests. If you create an IT foundation project, you’ll have to turn away other work, some of which is important. That can create stress in even the most stable IT/business relationships and may cause some of your business partners to go ahead without you. The right approach is to work from a single list, one that is aligned to your organization’s priorities – at the highest level.

Move only if there is a real advantage to be gained

~Sun Tzu – “The Art of War”

But aren’t business initiatives just projects?

Let’s define a business initiative. These are the top funded programs the business plans to do in the near future – like supply chain optimization or implementing digital marketing. They’re important because they are strategic to the business and the business is already committed to them. You usually find these listed on placards throughout the corporate campus. These are not the top 3 projects listed on the corporate portfolio or the IT prioritized project list. These initiatives are stated at the enterprise level and usually have numerous business and IT projects aligned to them.

Once you have a line of sight on those initiatives, you can identify data management (not just the data – also data quality, metadata, master data, governance, etc.) requirements within each and across all initiatives and consolidate those into a comprehensive, data-focused plan. Using the initiatives as guardrails, scope only what is needed, when it is needed. If you have one corporate initiative to implement a digital market capability and another one for supply chain optimization, the data management capabilities required to support those initiatives overlap. Develop a holistic delivery plan and use the initiatives to ensure the scope is contained to what is required to support the immediate corporate focus.

When you approach data management this way, no longer are the analytic ecosystem projects fighting for additional budget and struggling to keep up. They are now part of the strategic funding and execution schedule of the company.

A tale of two parties…

Here’s a compare and contrast.

Scenario 1: Your team has just delivered an integrated data store as a stand-alone, IT foundation project. You’re at the celebration. The CIO is there saying “great work!” and everyone is touting the years of hard work, long hours and technical expertise that your team committed. BUT, there is no message about what the company is doing differently because of all that work – how customers are better served, operating margins are improved, or sales are increased. In fact, business representatives are only there so you can thank them for their UAT participation. You’re all proud, and rightly so, but the key message is: “Glad we got that done. Now everyone go forth and make use of it!”

Scenario 2: You’ve matured the enterprise data management program by directly supporting the company’s business initiatives. You have a roadmap that shows where you’ve focused your team’s efforts (information, applications, systems and enabling processes) and why (from a business perspective). Throughout the year, you delivered incremental value to your data management program by directly supporting the business. As the business horizon shifted, you shifted your capabilities and plan to meet the company’s needs. IT doesn’t get their own party for this one; rather, you’re invited to the big, end of year gala and your team’s contribution to corporate outcomes is evident. The CEO and business representatives are running the show and telling stories of a company today that looks different than the same company last year and you and your team played a key part in that.

Both celebrations are genuine. Both outcomes are good. But the cake tastes so much sweeter at the second party! You are working at the same pace as your company and, once this success is achieved with your business partners, you’re off – together – to achieve the next of the company’s top initiatives.

Back to those lists on your desk…

You have a great opportunity to become an accelerator for your company’s strategy! Get to know the enterprise initiatives and the executives that sponsor them. When you attach your work to the most important efforts in the company, your priority is clear and the value of your team’s work is undeniable.

Teradata Professional Services has a full suite of offerings to assess your Enterprise Data Management program, help you target the most valuable opportunities for maturity and build a roadmap that shows alignment to business initiatives and enabling processes (like data governance). Once we address the high level, we can focus where we’re most needed – analytic roadmap, data quality, data governance, etc. For more information, visit our website.


Anita Filippi Teradata Data PointsAnita Filippi is a Senior Professional Services Consultant, Enterprise Strategy and Governance Center of Excellence. She consults with clients to mature enterprise data management capabilities using practical, step by step approaches that are aligned with business goals, aware of organizational readiness and focused on people, processes, and technology. Anita has spent the last 16 years playing various leadership roles in Enterprise Information Management.

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