Total Business Magazine

Why You Need Business Data Managers

By Ian Matthews, Data Evangelist at NGDATA


In many big businesses, it is still the remit of IT teams to lock down data and make it secure. But more nimble and forward-thinking companies are pivoting to an approach that unlocks the value in data by feeding it to finance, marketing and operations teams.

This fundamental shift in strategy has led to the emergence of the ‘business data manager’. Often taken on as a secondary role with no conventional job description, these are the people who have the know-how to look at data with an analytical eye and identify the prospects, customers and potential products you never knew were out there. These are your organisation’s hidden, unsung data heroes.

And despite what their title might suggest, if they even have it as a title, a business data manager is not an in-house data scientist. Still a specialised skill, data science tends to be outsourced and will only reach its true potential when built on your organisations existing analytics capabilities. So rather than focusing on analytics and building models, data managers have traditionally been unofficially allocated the responsibility because they understand how to get value from data in a way to improve the day-to-day operation of the business. By collaborating with IT, analytics and business intelligence team they can put into practice the insights gained. But the fact remains that business-critical insights can only be driven by clean, reliable data. As the saying goes, garbage in means garbage out.

Since it is often an additional responsibility, and needs secondary stakeholders, the time dedicated to preparing data for use in analytics can waste a huge amount of resources. This not only slows down the process of getting insights and actioning them but means a revenue-generating exercise is instead seen as a cost centre for the business.

In an ideal world, as with many things, data capture and consumption would be seamlessly automated and complete without human intervention. As futuristic as that may sound, many businesses are realising that, by harnessing the latest developments in automation and machine learning, they can take out a lot of the repetitive manual work that goes along with formatting a spreadsheet, for example. And that frees up key resources to understand insights and explore new opportunities. By driving for and implementing this transition, business data managers can be indispensable, increasing the velocity and resource efficiency of spotting new opportunities and enabling the adoption of cutting edge advancements such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In general, the de-skilling of the process means employees from across business functions are able to add value to an organisation. By pooling their expertise, a project to leverage data might then generate a new product, or identify a different demographic of customers, which might even lead to a reimagined marketing strategy.

By automating the generation of insights that might once have taken weeks to develop, a professional with a few spare hours and a bit of initiative can now develop new strategies to help drive business growth. In a world of increasing competition and shrinking profit margins, it is vital that enterprises invest in technologies that quicken and simplify the process of finding new customers and identifying their product and service needs.  The organisations driving value from investments in digital transformation, big data, and analytics will be the ones with the business domain experts engaged with the data.

At the end of the day, the biggest intended impact of any data management project shouldn’t be how you identify growth opportunities internally. It should change how your customers see and experience working with your business – ultimately, it should positively impact your business from a customer perception perspective.

If given an official job title, with a specific responsibility, a ‘business data manger’ (or ‘data hero’) can pose a whole host of benefits to businesses, to the point where it becomes as recognised as the company accountant, marketing director or receptionist. Getting the right people in the role of business data manager will certainly push teams to expand their thinking, harness their creativity and help you make the most of your data. Nevertheless, in a world of business purpose and brand mission, this needs to tap into developing an offering that answers your customers’ needs – even the ones you didn’t know you had.

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