Getting A Competitive Edge with a Strong Data Strategy

Posted on April 30, 2019
Getting A Competitive Edge with a Strong Data Strategy

How can businesses and organizations develop a data strategy in order to be competitive in today’s technological, big-data centred world?

Raw data transformed into useable information is one of the most powerful business assets out there. But it doesn’t happen automatically. Focussed strategies are necessary to reap its benefits, because useful data requires special effort to find and interpret.

The process of acquiring, assessing, handling and using data can seem overwhelming. Sometimes companies delay their efforts in data analytics because they believe they lack expertise, infrastructure, money or enough data. In fact, they simply need to start with a plan.

Cloud-based big data and analytics solutions are an affordable starting point. Also, a lot of useful data is freely available from social media sources, open government initiatives, and newspaper archives, etc. Depending on your application, you can also find weather, satellite imagery and online map data in the public domain.

The first step in a data strategy is to consider how it will be identified and obtained from both internal and external sources. A reliable storage method must provide security, yet still allow for company-wide sharing and processing. Technological upgrades and staff training may be needed to meet the demands, as employees without advanced IT training may be accessing the data, depending on company policy.

Third party data will exist in different formats and be subject to conditions of use. Rules as to how it can be reused and shared and guidelines for access need to be established and enforced.

Many organizations have created the new position of “data curator” to determine the quality, accuracy and ways that different data will be applied. They work as a bridge between IT and other departments who will be using it.

Forecasting from data can generate insights into where to focus efforts in marketing and product development for maximum benefit. New markets and business relationships can be created, ensuring that the time and money needed to create and act on a data strategy will be well worth it.


The topic of this article is covered in the curriculum for Schulich ExecEd program Masters Certificate in Analytics for Leaders (starting Sept. 16, 2019). The program is designed to provide an introduction to the concepts of Big Data and Predictive Analytics delivered within a Leadership framework.