Building a data strategy: Where to begin

10 March 2022 • 4 min read

Data strategy

As businesses evolve, they accumulate vast amounts of data from purchase history and user traffic to warehousing information. This data is often stored in disparate systems, such as spreadsheets, databases, cloud systems or even text files, making aggregating the information difficult and time-consuming. Storing data in silos also limits its value. Siloed data does provide insight to the department collecting it, but when combined, it can be a powerful asset to the whole business. 


Understanding your data and the ecosystem it exists in is key to any organisation’s success. After all, as noted in The Economist, ‘The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data’. 


This is also true of any digital transformation journey. Getting to grips with what’s ‘under the hood’ and building a data strategy to support your digital growth is key. To find out the crucial role data should play in scaling your business, join our webinar on March 22nd, How Missguided unlocked growth through modernising their digital strategy


Laying the right foundations


One of the biggest challenges preventing people from understanding their data is the sheer volume collected. Today, companies accumulate several terabytes of data over just a few years of trading, making auditing an arduous task that often gets pushed further down the to-do list. 


Improving in-house infrastructure can help you manage large volumes of data and gather valuable insight. However, redesigning your infrastructure can be complex, and there are many considerations and limitations to think about before you take the leap. Here are several common practical factors to consider: 


  • Computing resource requirements
  • Cost of purchase
  • Cost of licensing
  • Ongoing running costs, such as power, network and staffing


As well as practical considerations, the infrastructure that underpins your data strategy can also be a limiting factor. The infrastructure itself has a limited lifespan and must be replaced further down the line. 


Another key consideration is storage. Your infrastructure will need to provide sufficient capacity for the constant stream of incoming raw data and the data created from processing this data. If your infrastructure struggles with capacity, this can eventually lead to larger operational problems, as systems start to run out of space. In this instance, you may need to limit the volume of data, continuously clear space, or pay to increase storage.  



Read next: Four steps to choosing the right customer data platform



Finding a single source of truth


Bringing disparate systems together to form a single source of truth is vital for all areas of your business. The most common approach is to build a database or data warehouse to store data using a well-defined schema intuitively linked together. However, this approach demands a lot of time to define, design and develop as the database requires fixed data models and import pipelines to convert the data. This can lead to a system with limited flexibility and restricted ability to evolve. 


Dipping our toe in the Data Lake


At AND Digital, we’ve recently worked with Missguided to unlock the potential of their data. To do this, we ingested historical data sources from ecommerce, advertising and user-traffic platforms into an AWS Data Lake. The data is refined so it can be investigated by data analysts to compare user journeys with buying patterns, helping to determine the effectiveness of their advertising strategies. 


Another approach businesses take is to adopt the concept of the Data Lake, but to segment data in zones. This allows raw data to be quickly ingested and stored in the relevant zone, before being refined via a pipeline process to transform or enhance the data into a more usable format. The refined data can then be catalogued and presented to the business for analysis. This option makes the process of creating a Data Lake simpler by taking advantage of the resources offered by cloud services providers, such as AWS. 



Learn more: How AND Digital helps ambitious organisations innovate with AWS



Data strategy: a non-negotiable


There are many options you can implement to help you manage volume and maximise the value of your data. The only non-negotiable is that you have a data strategy in place. Starting your strategy can be difficult particularly as it needs to be adaptive and ongoing but this is why it’s really important to work with a digital delivery partner who understands your business and can guide you through the process. 


If you’d like to learn more about the pivotal role of data, and how you can get more value from yours, join us on March 22nd for our webinar, How Missguided unlocked growth through modernising their digital strategy. During the session, we’ll be joined by Missguided IT Director, John Rignall, who’ll talk about their digital transformation journey towards developing a best-in-breed app, now available in stores. 


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