Bookshelf: Data Driven

Bookshelf: Data Driven

By Thomas C. Redman, Harvard Business Press, 2008, 272 pages, $29.95

What do you do with data that's just sitting around, unused? This book suggests that data is a company's most important business asset that needs to be managed aggressively. The author, a consultant who has written several previous books on data quality, believes that companies need to get data out of the IT department and onto the revenue side, where it can potentially add value to such areas as product development, marketing, strategy and financial management.

Redman offers the following "10 Habits" of managers who successfully manage their data:

  1. Focus on the most important needs of the most important customers.
  2. Apply relentless attention to process.
  3. Manage all critical sources of data, including suppliers.
  4. Measure quality at the source and in business terms.
  5. Employ controls at all levels to halt simple errors and establish a basis for moving forward.
  6. Develop a knack for continuous improvement.
  7. Set and achieve aggressive targets for improvement.
  8. Formalize management accountabilities for data.
  9. Lead the effort using a broad, senior group.
  10. Recognize that the hard data quality issues are soft, and actively manage the needed cultural changes.

By putting the right data at the center of your organization, Redman asserts, a company can dramatically reduce the uncertainty inherent in its daily business decisions, and thereby become more successful.

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