Steps for promoting data discovery


Maximizing the value of data requires not just technological solutions but also organizational change. There are many ways to leverage data, but organizations have to be careful in choosing the way that's right for them, advises Thomas C. Redman, Ph.D., the author of "Data Driven: Profiting from Your Most Important Business Asset."

One strategy involves concentrating on fundamental discoveries that can be identified in data. Great discoveries could include the optimal time to secure a customer, a new tactic for identifying fraud or how to transmit power more efficiently. This strategy, while potentially hugely rewarding, is "fraught with danger," Redman writes in a post at Harvard Business Review.

Redman points to Bell Labs, where he worked early in his career, as an example of an organization that succeeded in this kind of data-driven discovery. He outlines three ways to implement a data discovery process.

Start by establishing the equivalent of a lab in your organization. It has to be a separate, independent department so that the analysts can devote themselves to fundamental discovery rather than getting pulled into other departments' mundane issues.

Next, manage the lab with care by encouraging experimentation while ensuring that the focus remains on the organization's business. You have to make sure that there is a clear definition of how the lab's work will lead to business value.

Finally, hire talented and diverse analysts who like working together. Squeezing insight out of data isn't easy, and the best data analysts are hard to find and hold onto. 

For more:
- see Thomas C. Redman's post at Harvard Business Review

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