“Data is Important” – More than a Quote, it is a Call to Action  

“Data is valuable”  

Data is an asset” 

Data must be a core part of your strategy” 

Data is oxygen for a business”

These statements are everywhere. Many of us have probably made them ourselves. I would guess that nearly all of us believe these statements to be true. Despite that, how many of us can honestly say that we are confidently executing a plan to leverage data, or that we are best positioned to use data to enhance our core business?

I have seen studies and articles by McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte, Harvard Business Review and other publications that all point to similar findings. Less than 40% of executives believe their business manages data as an asset and less than a quarter believe their organization is data driven. If this is the case, why do we all keep saying and believing the statements listed above?

The simple reason is that in our consumer life we get to experience the power of data turned into information every day. We see information turned into decision-grade intelligence and we see intelligence turned into action. It may be in the form of well-targeted ads, suggestions on TV shows to watch that are eerily accurate, web searches that provide suggestions seemingly before you even asked, or conveniences like driving directions, that show up right when we need it in our lives. These consumer experiences condition all of us to see the power and connective potential of data and it allows us to dream of the utility that this asset could bring to our business lives. 

This is actually very good news! If only a quarter of businesses today are truly data-driven, can you imagine what will happen as more businesses make this inevitable transition? Life-changing ideas will become reality, immense productivity will be unlocked and in the world of water, it will mean that high impact environmental solutions will be found. The information and intelligence that we are dreaming of having at our fingertips will become reality. Companies around the world are embracing this transition, partially for innovation and partially as a means of staying competitive. This is sometimes painful as we wait for the result but will ultimately be very exciting for our world.

How do we unlock this power in business?

While we all see and cheer for the destination, the road through this transition is not clear for most. As the digital leader for a 150+ year old global company in my former role, I got to live this challenge from the driver’s seat. We were successful. We had established barriers to entry. We had quality products and strong margins. Why change? What was the need to integrate data-driven, digital technology to a business that was doing well?  The battle that many businesses fight is that they don’t have a burning platform driving their change.  

A perfectly good answer for change is that you may want to open new lines of business, while it is also perfectly fine to admit that digital transition is needed to protect your current business.  The question I like to pose is “how”? As in how will we make that transition? 

Everyone is in a different starting position, but the answer to “How” is always going to include a partner; no one will do it alone. The latest technology or the newest Silicon Valley firm will not “disrupt” the industry by themselves. The best-established player will not develop the end solution alone. 

This means that real answers will only occur when as an industry we collaborate in leveraging everyone’s strengths to build a new future together. Technology players need to introduce innovative approaches that allow today’s successful companies to extend or enhance their core competenciesy. The established players need to partner with technology providers and be vulnerable about where they need help. This journey together starts at a whiteboard and with a desire to get ideas out in the open. We all need to be brave enough to broadcast what a new future could look like – then be bold enough to work to make it a reality.

When that happens, data will become very valuable, viewed as a true asset, feature prominently in core strategy, and become the oxygen that the businesses survive on. More importantly, when that happens, we do not just have to say or believe these things anymore … instead we get to be the people leading the change!

Quotes are great for hanging on the wall. A call to action is needed to change the world.

Eric Homberger

VP, Strategic Partnership Development at True Elements 

Eric Homberger joined True Elements in May 2022 as VP, Strategic Business Partnerships. Previously, Eric led a Global team focused on Digital Transformation of Sales, Marketing & Commerce processes for BASF’s Agricultural Solutions Division. Over 12 years with BASF, Eric held a variety of leadership roles across Finance, Data Management, Sales and Program Management. Prior to BASF, he worked in a range of industries across 4 continents during his time at Honeywell’s Automation & Control Solutions division and in General Electric’s Audit Staff. Eric holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Michigan State University and an MBA with a focus on Marketing & Leadership from New York University’s Stern School of Business.