By Cori Land, Corporate Strategist, DataStax\n\nDefinition of virtuous circle (noun):\n\na chain of events in which one desirable occurrence leads to another which further promotes the first occurrence and so on resulting in a continuous process of improvement (Merriam-Webster)\n\nYou might have seen \u201cdata is exploding\u201d stats before, but they are so staggering\u2014they\u2019re worth showing you again:\n\nThe important question now is, what do we do with all this data?\n\nThe digital transformation bonanza of the 2010s produced mountains and streams of data from digitized operations and customer interactions. Now, organizations are in the midst of figuring out how to wring value out of all of the data a digital business creates.\n\nWhere leadership excels: discovering, leveraging, and operationalizing data\n\nData-driven leaders are using data to gain competitive advantage through better customer experience or greater productivity. Data drives a virtuous circle: data is both exhaust from and fuel for their business operations. For example, Lyft collects ride history data through its mobile app, enabling the company to know more about the ride sharing market than taxi companies ever did. Lyft uses this data to optimally deploy resources and sustain its advantage.\n\nThis \u201cdata generates revenue generates data\u201d pattern is becoming common among market leaders and emerging within the majority of enterprises.\n\nA recent survey by DataStax and research firm Enterprise Management Associates, of 514 key enterprise decision makers and executives found that 23% of respondents identify as data-driven leaders: they are excellent at discovering, leveraging, and operationalizing data; 49% identify as \u201cmainstreamers,\u201d having operationalized most of their data strategy but still see room for improvement; and 23% identify as laggards\u2013they are either just beginning to formalize or are in the process of implementing their data strategy. (2% of respondents are outliers: they don\u2019t have plans or are just beginning to plan how they\u2019ll implement their data strategy.)\n\nIs it the chicken or the data? Leaders use more data\u2013and get more from it\n\nLeading companies\u2019 critical applications involve more data. Two-thirds (66%) of leaders\u2019 critical apps use more than 500 terabytes (TB), whereas the plurality of laggards (46%) have less than 100TB involved in their critical applications.\n\nThe survey also asked companies to reflect on how they are using data to create revenue. 92% of data-driven leaders report that their data has a material impact on how they generate revenue, versus 74% of mainstreamers and 55% of laggards.\n\nLeaders are ahead because of how they use data, not just how much they use. The data begets revenue begets data rhythm is self-fulfilling: leaders\u2019 excellence at discovering, leveraging, and operationalizing data lets them capture more value from their data, increasing their appetite for even more data.\n\n\n\nGet cooking: Activate your data\n\nYou have digital experiences generating data. The technology you need is readily available\u2013you can pick it up as open source software or get it as a cloud service. You don\u2019t have to wait until you have solved which comes first, the data or the revenue. Jumpstart your virtuous data circle by beginning with one use case. Work backwards\u2013where might data light up your customer experience or advance your operational efficiency?\n\nYou might begin with the most widely-adopted workload among the enterprises we surveyed: user profile management (59% of companies run it in production and 24% are underway with getting it there). With user profile management, you can turn on personalization by activating a user\u2019s preferences, interests, and interactions to serve a tailored experience. McKinsey found that great personalization can lift revenue by 40%. What\u2019s more, 78% of consumers are more likely to repurchase from a brand with great personalization, demonstrating the data-begets-revenue-begets-data pattern as repeat buyers generate a richer user profile with each shopping session.\n\nSo, let\u2019s get started! Don\u2019t get left in the dust as everyone else races to the other side of digital transformation\u2014turning their data into value, again and again and again.\n\nLearn more about how leading companies drive revenue with data in the free report, The State of the Data Race 2021.\n\nTo learn more about DataStax, visit us here.\n\nAbout Cori Land:\n\nCori is a corporate strategist at DataStax. They combine their background in economic analysis, corporate innovation, and organizational design to help companies find a new way forward out of ambiguity and inertia. Cori specializes in surfacing empirical data and empathetic listening to help leaders find new confidence in their strategic decisions. Cori holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and lives in San Francisco, California.