How to build a data strategy roadmap

October 3rd 2023


A data strategy roadmap has a vital part to play in ensuring businesses like yours get the most out of their data - especially as so much data remains under-utilised.

The average company analyses around 40% of its data - and when it comes to unstructured data, this figure often drops to less than 1%, according to the Harvard Business Review. Much of the wastage of other data is because businesses don’t have a data strategy roadmap in place to enable the rest of it to be used. Without this roadmap, as many as 70% of employees end up with access to data they shouldn’t, which leads to major security and compliance risks.

StatsSo at a time when 90% of businesses are increasing their investments in data and analytics, a data strategy roadmap is essential for making the most of your spending. This blog tells you all you need to know about developing yours: why it’s so important to plan ahead, the five key steps for putting the right roadmap in place, and how third-party support can help you along the way.

What is a data strategy roadmap?

A data strategy roadmap is a means of outlining the processes for managing, analysing and utilising data, in the context of overarching business goals and needs. It will typically include guidelines for data collection, storage and usage; define roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability and transparency; incorporate data quality assurance processes; and set out essential measures for data governance and compliance.

When a data roadmap is properly developed, a business can make more informed decisions regarding its data sets. It can also minimise compliance risk, empower a business to make strategic choices based on quality data, and ultimately promote a data-driven culture business-wide.

Why is a data strategy roadmap important?

A well-defined data-strategy roadmap is especially important in ensuring data initiatives are aligned with the goals of your organisation. It provides a structured approach to harnessing the value of all the data within your organisation and allows data to become a strategic asset rather than a liability.

Organisations that lack a clear data strategy, either because their data strategy roadmap is poorly constructed or they don’t have one at all, face numerous headwinds that can severely impact business processes. These can include (and are not necessarily limited to): inefficient data management, poor data quality and consistency, missed business opportunities, misaligned efforts, higher costs, and greater security and compliance risks.

5 key steps to building a data strategy roadmap

A structured approach to developing a data strategy roadmap is the best way forward. This is because it helps achieve clarity, keeps business objectives front-of-mind, and enables a logical progression towards a structured implementation. To achieve this, we recommend the following five steps, based on our years of experience in successful data roadmap development:

Step 1: Current State Assessment

The best place to start is to measure exactly where you are at present, and this requires a comprehensive assessment of several different areas. For starters, you’ll need to define and quantify your existing business assets and set out all the current challenges your organisation is facing with regards to data management. Parallel to this, you should also define your overall business objectives at this stage.

Step 2: Data Audit

Next, you should go deeper into your data and investigate it in detail. This should include a full analysis of existing data sources, the quality of your data, and the capabilities of the infrastructure that supports that data. By doing this, you’ll uncover any gaps that exist in your data - in qualitative or quantitative terms - and also identify any opportunities to make improvements.

Step 3: Strategy Design

With all that information gathered, you can then start to sketch out what your data strategy should look like. This should bring together as many relevant stakeholders as possible, with close collaboration between all of them ensuring that every part of your business is considered. At this stage, the data strategy should outline overall goals, the key performance indicators that will measure progress towards them, and any other desired outcomes along the way.

5 key steps to building a data strategy roadmap

Step 4: Roadmap Development

The next step is to put that strategy into more of a  practical form with actionable items and goals. You can develop a phased plan that prioritises different initiatives, based on how central they are to your overall goals, the level of impact they will have on different business areas and their level of feasibility. For each initiative, you should have clear timelines and resource allocations defined that are realistic and within budget.

Step 5: Execution and Monitoring

The final step is to execute the initiatives set out in the data strategy roadmap, but it’s important to remember that this will be an ongoing process. As well as ensuring data governance and security, your measures should include scope for stakeholder engagement, continuous improvement and the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions and business objectives. That way, you can keep the focus on achieving measurable business value, and maximise the usefulness of the data strategy roadmap in the short-term and the long-term.

In summary

By covering the five steps above, you’ll be giving your data strategy roadmap the best chance of being successful and effective. And with that in place, the difference it can make to your business can be transformative, from making better use of all the information at your disposal to making more informed and data-driven decisions every single day.

It’s important to remember that your needs and objectives may differ from those of your competitors, which is why putting these principles in the context of your business strategy is crucial. If you feel you may need help along the way, the experience of an expert partner can give you the insights and confidence that can keep you on the right track.

Need help, support or advice in creating a data strategy roadmap? Ciklum is here to help, with a global workforce of IT experts and years of experience in your industry. Get in touch with us today to discuss your specifics.

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