Who Owns Your Data?

We’ve been talking about the alignment between business and IT for some time now. Last week, I asked the question to some colleagues, “Who owns the data in an organization, the business or IT?” Several jumped into the fray and gave justifiable reasons as to why it was one or the other. After giving it much thought over a few days, I couldn’t really say either or. 

Why? Because the reality is that we ALL own the data. I wrote in my previous post about data tying many areas of the business together, and ultimately, IT is a PART OF THE BUSINESS.  It’s time to start realizing that, and stop making it a BUSINESS vs. IT issue, because that’s no longer the case. The common goal of any organization should be to make an enjoyable customer experience. Data=business intelligence=better customer offerings. It’s a simple equation and outcome that doesn’t care whether it belongs to business or IT. If the customer experience isn’t enjoyable, everyone suffers in the end. 

So how do I&O teams integrate more into the overall business? How does the business leverage more of IT?  By understanding what the end goal is and making it happen as a team. There’s a number of ways this can happen, including assembling project teams based on initiatives, bringing together the network, server, storage, apps, marketing, and sales team together. Everyone needs to learn and understand the value of data. This is not an easy feat, but one that must happen if we want to break down the wall that continues to stand as a divide between business and IT.

I’ve worked with many I&O teams who are not aware of or not included in the bigger business initiatives occurring in their respective companies. This lack of communication is lethal, as it furthers the misperception of an irrelevant I&O organization. Leadership plays a key role here, and having the right leaders in place who understand the need for ‘organizational convergence’ will be increasingly important as we move towards fluid organizations, just like technologies and operational models have. Many changes, both from a technology and organizational perspective have to happen, and must happen in sync, in order to realize the full benefits and value of either one.

So the question isn’t “Who owns your data?” but really “Who owns the ultimate customer experience?”  The answer?  We all do.


Who owns your data

Vanessa -

Agree 100% with your observation. And I would even venture another step forward - it's more than just about improving "customer experience". When IT and a line-of-business get together, it should be to collaborate on what will improve the *top line* of the business (make more money) and not just the bottom line (how can we curb costs?).

For example, wouldn't it be great if IT got with Marketing, understood their business, and then suggested some data analytics options that could help mine customer value or provide a new service? It's not about "who owns the data" but more about "how can we collectively extract value from it?"

I'd love to see the industry up-level the conversation. Alas, today we're still mired in technology implementation, faster IT provisioning, etc. etc. whereas we could instead be debating best approaches to providing agility to the core business.

~ Ken