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Companies around the world are waking up to the power of data and its ability to drive genuine business results and potentially create new revenue streams.

However, given the breadth of the topic and the perceived complexities, many of these companies still find themselves stuck on where to start.

With so many applications across a business, it’s easy to get paralysed by choice. To help narrow focus and start small, we’ve pulled together our three top tips for creating a data strategy.

1) Understand what’s available

Businesses are often told – or they might say so themselves – that they are sitting on a ‘goldmine of data’. And this is almost always the case. However, in order for this data to actually be effective, the business must first be able to identify it. By assessing the state of the data available, businesses are in a better position to create an effective data strategy. 

The obvious solution here is a data audit, which will help reveal exactly what data is available. This allows businesses to structure their data in a way that better enables data commercialisation, while also helping with internal decision making. Another important step when understanding what is available is identifying exactly where the data sits. Often, companies still running legacy systems might find that their data is siloed throughout different business departments. This can lead to problems later on. For example, a research team might have access to survey data that has not been matched with the company’s CRM records. 

2) Start small, set  goals and be practical

All strategies require clear and achievable goals in order to be effective – and it’s no different when it comes to data. Data has many purposes for a business. It can be monetised to create new revenue streams or it can be used internally to identify (and resolve) inefficiencies. Deciding how you think your data can help you is crucial to any data strategy.

When it comes to setting a data strategy, it is a good idea to pick one single business problem that you believe data can help improve. For example, a business might want to use data to create a strategy that identifies and manages the highest value/most profitable customers. With greater understanding of high value customer attributes, ‘lookalike’ prospects can be identified both internally and externally. Such a strategy is likely to improve ROI and help boost profitability in the long-term.

3) Finding the right partner 

Perhaps the most important step for your data strategy is looking outside your business for third-party providers that can help you achieve your goals. Whether you need assistance with data cleansing, storage or building actionable insights, there are a range of different services and providers available.  Partnering with an external provider will also give you access to rich second and third partner data which can be combined with internal datasets. At smrtr, we offer services ranging from data audits, customer profiling and audience segments that utilise our vast array of industry specific data.

With a rapidly evolving regulatory landscape, including the recent introduction of the GDPR in Europe, businesses now require expert guidance when it comes to data management.  Any business establishing a data strategy should learn whether GDPR applies to them before they get started (the regulation can be applicable to businesses with ties to Europe). In Australia, the government is currently reviewing the Privacy Act, with stricter guidelines around data commercialisation expected to follow. Any data strategy should have the privacy act as a primary consideration.

To learn more, please get in touch and we’ll get back to you within one business day.

By Steve Millward, General Manager – Commercial at smrtr