If you want a better garden, you hire a gardener; if you want better data, consider calling in a Data Specialist.
Most of us know the basic tenants of gardening: first you a) take a seed, b) bury it in soil, c) give it some water and then d) place in sunlight, resulting in plant growth. Likewise, the typical business user knows the basics of storing their data. First they a) find or create new record, b) enter the details, and c) hit save. If creating a document on their workstation, they’ll also give it a name and select a location where it can be retrieved from. So the question comes up, why would any business look for or bring in an expert in data and information management? As long as staff can complete their tasks and know where files are saved or data is entered, isn’t that enough?
Look at flower beds developed by hobbyists against the work of a professional landscaping company: the difference in handiwork soon becomes apparent. The work completed by any good landscaping company will be visibly much better, with the inclusion of professional care. This is because the experts in plant and lawn care, the gardeners, know that to bring real value to the flower bed there are more considerations then picking up seeds and planting. What sort of soil are they planting in? Is there anything they can do to enhance it for better growth? What about the overarching location: are they planting for heavy sunlight or daily shade? What grows best in the area, and are there plants, pretty though they might appear, which would actually do poorly, unable to handle the local climate? What is the strategy for the patch: annuals, which bloom frequently but require replacement each year, or perennials, which return but only bloom during certain months? Are there any tricks of the trade, such as deadheading or clipping, that can result in more life bursting through? A personal favourite from the gardening world are roses, those utterly gorgeous flowers protected by thorns that add a little class to any environment. Roses however, require more work then simply planting and adding water: they are fussy flora that demand extra time to really get right, including clipping, specific food, and being on guard against attacking aphids or black spot.
Similar to plants in a garden, the information and data of an organization benefits from attention to detail. You must look at the landscape and decide where records are going, that they can be easily found and retrieved by the appropriate members of your team. Before committing space for storage, you should have a plan on how the data will be put to work: collecting information or data without purpose is a needless exercise, and can increase corporate risk. Regular cleanup of documents keeps systems efficient, while some data should be deleted once its functionality is over. Pests, including hackers and cybercriminals, are always a threat: a professional can classify which resources need stronger barriers and how to protect vulnerable data. Not all of the data your organization collects, creates or uses may be equal in the eyes of the law: depending on your industry, your data may be subject to legal requirements. This is particularly true if you’re working with data that contains personally identifiable information, or work in a heavily regulated environment such as health or finance. Even with sophisticated software in place to control the data, compliance may require operating procedures for how your team works with the data, who is allowed access, and what business value you are permitted to derive.
By bringing in a data specialist, you provide your resources with higher quality of care, that can make a big difference on your return. Through processes including audits, governance and management, an expert can improve the quality, accountability and use of your data resources. Your data has value; to make the most of it, consider investing in your data garden today.