Clearing a Path on the Road to Reusable Data

When focusing on good data and its reuse, we often see instances where companies are trying to manage data across disparate and badly connected systems. In practice, it is always difficult to get all those systems to use the same quality attributes in order to create an even playing field.

At this point you might be asking whose fault all this is, right?

Accountability for data quality is a business imperative

The ‘accountability’ for the improvement of data should certainly now shift upwards to become a higher-level business imperative.

Previously we’ve seen data quality accountability rest solely in the hands of IT.

If we now accept that IT has moved to a level where it is in fact ‘the business’ (as in, every company must now recognise that it is a technology-centric company at heart), then we can start to build a more tangible business case for data quality and productive data reusability.

In the past we’ve seen the business function often argue with the IT function that its data is no good. What we must now see is a situation where IT acts as the steward of the data, but the business function understands that often IT does not create the data in the first place.

When the business function starts to understand how important its own data quality is, it then starts to take more care over curating, corralling, controlling and connecting it via qualitative data analysis.

Completeness reports

So now we see firms running data analytics, or ‘health reports’, on what data they have in order to identify areas of operations where they need to connect and integrate systems together. When this is done well, we can get the right information streams in place so that data analytics can be used to maximum productive effect.

As an example, the Health Dashboard in the ServiceNow platform looks for correctness, compliance and completeness of CMDB data. This sort of compliance report should be run across people data, finance data, customer-billing data and so on. It all comes back to the company’s ability to provide transparent costs and ultimately a TCS (Total Cost of a Service).

The ‘101 of charge back’ is the ability to know who the organisation paid for a product or service, who that purchase came from and which department is using it.

After this sort of qualitative data analysis, we know what the business is spending on various software applications — and, in fact, other things from drinking water to property insurance and onward to access control systems, desks and chairs etc.

Once we control this level of data quality, we can align procurement and operations to control the business more profitably. At this point we can make informed decisions on which department should procure what, when, where and why.

Eliminating the ‘stuff’ factor

If we get to this point in the immediate future, we can then simplify, integrate and automate. These are the three words that exemplify the way we will structure the future of work.

One of the keys benefits of using the ServiceNow enterprise data management platform is that customers enjoy incremental improvements as data is reused across different disciplines, processes and departments.

Good data forms the basis of trust in an organisation and so, consequently, the more you can reuse, the stronger and potentially quicker a transformation to digital-driven business can happen.

This is apparent when you reuse the same employee data across every department to check, validate and improve the employee experience. This action, in turn, allows for intelligent automation and continual service improvement.

Let’s take an example of an employee booking a business trip abroad. Because we have full data quality relating to that worker’s activities we can make sure a roaming bundle is applied to their smartphone, their visa checks are carried out, a VPN is provided and more.

When we generate all these intelligent automation advantages, then the employee can start to focus on doing their job and performing value-add activities and not worry about ‘stuff’.

That sounds like such silly thing, but it’s such a real thing and we now have the ability to address the ‘stuff’ factor. These are the elements of life that make people not just less productive and efficient, they also make people nervous, stressed or even depressed.

Anybody should have access to this kind of intelligent automation if their organisation actually cares about them enough to make them a real part of the total operation.

Remember the (possibly apocryphal) story about the janitor at NASA who JFK stopped to ask what his job was? He said he was helping put a man on the moon. Whether the story is true or not, we need to fundamentally connect every employee to reusable data as we continue to reach for the stars.

Paul Hardy

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