Data is just a collection of facts, and as such will have limited value.

The real value comes from what data enables you to do.

Data adds value when you trust it to work for you.

Put together in context, data gives you information. How you interpret that information gives you knowledge which leads to wisdom. Data Driven businesses use data to drive outcomes.

Digital Disruptors have loads of high-quality data. Because they are backed with this data, they can take advantage of technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. They take it for granted that they have real time dashboards, can access real time reports, and can make informed decisions based on real data that they trust.

the knowledge tree

The knowledge tree

Data is the basis of wisdom

Digital Disruptors are typically Data Centric

If Data is your asset, why do most businesses focus on applications?

Data Centricity – the benefits

  • Efficiency
  • Process automation
  • Data driven
  • Best in class MIS
  • Cost savings

These businesses are very often Data Centric as opposed to most business which are typically Application Centric. Data Centric businesses have a culture which puts data at the heart of their tech strategy and all their digital planning.

Data is the asset; applications come and go.

So the first question when evaluating any tech solution focusses on the data and how that solution will interact and fit the current data structure. The second question is also about data; Data Security. Everything revolves around the data.

Why change to Data Centric?

The upside is better and more efficient systems that will use and benefit from more process automation. The upside is that your Management Information System (MIS) will have a well-structured data source to interrogate. The final upside is likely to be financial savings. Whether it is eventually cheaper to deliver or you lose less money through incorrect decisions will depend on where you start.

Being data driven or data informed does not mean you are Data Centric. Indeed, the chances are that you are not Data Centric. Most organisations are the opposite to Data Centric; they are called Application Centric. Your data “belongs” to your applications; is structured, managed and updated by those individual applications. Data is “shared” using ETL processes (Extract, Transform, Load) which move data around your estate. You may have middleware and a Data Warehouse, Data Lakes or even a Data Mesh These are all potential solutions to the problems endemic in an application centric environment.

No one sells a Data Centric solution. It is not like an application solution which addresses an issue and will generate an income stream for a third party.

In the Data Centric culture, data is the asset, and any solution must treat the asset, your data, as its primary consideration.

How do you move to a Data Centric culture?

Understand your Data Architecture

You must understand your data – call this your Data Architecture. You will need to map the key facts (Data Points) that are used in all the business processes. Eventually, you will have a structure and data flow.

Data Structure is based on a clear Enterprise Architecture.

This is the core business knowledge and infrastructure. It tracks all the processes from Marketing, through Sales and Delivery to Accounts. It tracks the data – where it is captured and used through the business. How the data flows through the business; the applications and systems that are used. What key facts are required at each stage, and how they are captured, shared and manipulated.

From this map, you can build your Data Architecture.

Now you understand your current Data Architecture

Start-ups are easy from here: no legacy systems or existing data storage issues to worry about.  You can build the ideal platform that will support and drive your growth.  Efficient, scalable and cost-effective to run; using data to automate and learn and providing you with the bedrock for a quality MIS. 

A potential digital disruptor in the making!

With an existing businesses, it is likely to be a longer return.  You will need to overlay your existing technologies, their data storage, any ETL, middleware or api hops so you can understand your current data flow.  You compare this against your ideal set up, identify the biggest bottlenecks or data leaks and start fixing it from there.  It is not a quick solution for most organisations but the long-term benefits are worth the effort.

Data Centric – A cultural step change

The culture change is required throughout the business at all levels.  The data is the asset. Whatever technology is selected is a short or maybe medium-term solution.  The ideal solution meets the needs of the business first, quality data from efficient, integrated systems. The needs of the process, department or individual come second to those of the business.

From the top you need clear leadership on the value and importance of data.  From managers, the value of using integrated solutions to the business.  From users the understanding that they are part of a team that uses and delivers quality data and a clear understanding that their views are key to future developments.

Philip Milne

Philip provides data and system services to business of all sizes either on a consultancy, temporary, or fractional basis.  He will help your existing teams transition to a Data Centric Culture.  He will not sell you technology solutions

If you want to see how you can move to a Data Centric future, please call 07825 854600 or email Philip at