The Data Economy is open, and it’s time to start trading

The Data Economy is the global market for live data, data applications and data services, and it’s something that organisations cannot afford to ignore

Businesses that truly engage with the Data Economy enjoy clear advantages over their rivals in terms of revenue and market share. Whatsmore, entering the Data Economy can serve business needs from delivering personalised customer journeys to optimising processes and improving supply chain efficiency. Yet, many businesses are stumbling at the first hurdle.

Companies are still struggling to take the first steps to succeed in the Data Economy – harnessing the power of their own data. In fact, research by Snowflake found that just 6% of businesses use and share their data in a way that enables them to take advantage of the Data Economy. The rewards for engaging and becoming a ‘Data Economy Leader’ are huge, and the penalties for failing to do so – and being left as a ‘Data Economy Laggard’ – are equally large). 77% of companies that had fully engaged with the possibilities of the Data Economy saw revenues rise, compared to 36% among businesses which have been slow to engage.

The rewards of data leadership

Data Economy Leaders are already using the power of sharing data safely and securely, to solve business problems that were previously thought impossible to overcome. These organisations are accelerating research, creating products faster and crafting new, personalised customer experiences which will drive innovation in business, and ensure companies can weather any challenge.

So what are the obstacles that hold businesses back? In many cases, it is legacy technology which leaves businesses unable to share their data with other organisations, or even within their own organisation. 55% of businesses are currently unable to share their data with other organisations, and the same number say that silos within their organisation make it difficult to share data internally and collaborate effectively across business units.

Sharing data is what unlocks the value of the Data Economy. This is why data is a leadership issue. For data to do its work, business leaders need to ensure that all or most business decisions are data-driven, and that data informs the company’s strategic goals, such as growing revenue. To make this happen, business leaders need to ensure that teams can access data when needed, and that data can be shared securely with external partners. For companies that are not already engaging, there’s no time to lose: increasing numbers of organisations are already creating mandates at board level to become data-driven. Those that fail to engage will be left behind.

Creating a successful data culture

The key to a successful data culture is having leaders who can oversee the use of data within the organisation – as well as training to ensure every part of the organisation is data-literate. Data scientists should not be the only ones within an organisation who understand data and what it’s for: every employee needs to understand how data is central to the

business and its goals. But what’s equally important is to be strategic with data, and understand what the business hopes to gain from engaging with the Data Economy. Data can deliver on dozens of different business goals: what businesses prioritise tends to be down to their sector. In financial services, it’s often personalised customer journeys: in healthcare, it’s streamlined processes, and in retail, it’s supply chain efficiency.

Successful Data Economy Leaders need to set a business objective, and then work outwards from that objective, building the right data culture within their organisation to achieve it. It always pays to have a clear business objective in mind when devising your data strategy, and use actionable insights from your data to get there.

The road to real results Results can be achieved more rapidly than most people imagine. Food giant Kraft Heinz set itself a goal of becoming a data-driven enterprise, but achieving that goal meant breaking down silos within the organisation and making data available throughout the company, and externally. In a previous decade, such a seismic change might have taken years: but in just nine months, Kraft Heinz shifted half a trillion records from an on-premises data infrastructure to an advanced cloud-based data platform and instilled a new consumer-driven data culture across the company. The company now has a single, unified data hub that drives its day-to-day operations globally, and, by breaking down data siloes, the multinational food giant made its data democratically and readily available throughout the business, and to its wider ecosystem of suppliers, retailers and other business partners.

Data scientists at Kraft Heinz work alongside business leaders to pick the right areas to optimise, such as optimal safety stocks. As a result, orders can always be fulfilled as the amount of inventory needed to ensure orders never run out. The company has put in place multiple organisation-wide learning programmes so the consumer-first, data-driven mindset spreads across the company. Working in the depths of the coronavirus pandemic, the company was able to change its culture, root and branch. Looking ahead, the company recognises the importance of being able to share and exchange data among different organisations, with the hopes of being part of a network where all organisations can seamlessly share any data they need to, securely and with respect for privacy.

The way data is used within a company, and the difference between businesses that are Data Leaders and those that are Data Laggards, is a people issue. Data Leaders need to address the culture within their company and ensure no division between data scientists and business functions, and no barriers to sharing data safely and in a compliant way, both inside the company and outside. Engaging with the Data Economy requires strong leadership and clear strategy, but the rewards for data leaders in the coming years will be immense.

About the Author

Alison Tierney is SVP EMEA at Snowflake on the Leaders and Laggards in today’s Data Economy – and what business leaders need to do to embrace its potential. Snowflake delivers the Data Cloud — a global network where thousands of organizations mobilize data with near-unlimited scale, concurrency, and performance. Inside the Data Cloud, organizations unite their siloed data, easily discover and securely share governed data, and execute diverse analytic workloads.

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