Acquiring new technology: The data intelligence dance

You need to bring together teams from different departments and business lines to develop a cohesive implementation approach and achieve group consensus. This process is what I refer to as “Data Intelligence.”

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This is exciting: You finally have an approved budget to acquire new technology for your department(s) to bring your processes to the next century (or maybe, just bring them current). Perhaps it’s a business performance scorecard or an enterprise case management system or [fill in the blank]. What now? 

You need to bring together teams from different departments and business lines to develop a more cohesive implementation approach and achieve group consensus. This process is what I refer to as “Data Intelligence” in my bestselling book, The Four Intelligences of the Business Mind.

When acquiring technology, there are two popular approaches:

  • Defining the requirements of the process and flow of data first, then identifying and implementing the technology that best fits.
  • Purchasing the most attractive technology, then modifying processes and data steps to accommodate the product.

The first, more zero-based approach can lead to uncovering and addressing unknown business needs. This method is more time-consuming at the outset, but minimizes future rework and supports a better data governance communication strategy. The second approach hits the ground running and is more prevalent, due to the need for instant gratification and a “good-enough” solution.

Which path is correct? To get reliable and accurate data, there is no right or wrong answer, but there are different implications for each.

Scenario:  Your CxO needs a dashboard or scorecard report view, and wants it yesterday.

Option 1: process first, acquisition second

Considerations include an in-depth analysis of the data to be captured, methods for validation, addressing compliance, and other details. This in-depth requirements process may drag out the technology acquisition, making the CxO question why things are taking so long. 

Option 2: acquisition first, process second

This approach appeases the CxO by showing real “results” very quickly, with the purchase of a product. However, an implementation process that involves retrofitting a solution to a process can be lengthy, frustrating, and possibly more prone to errors.

Either way, you must address the parts of your project that appear as bottlenecks. Communication is key to continue to garner the support of your stakeholders, and must be consistent across the organization.

Let’s say that business users and procurement jointly decide to first acquire a product with desired features and capabilities that will later result in a necessary redefinition of related data processes. But, the project touches records management, the gatekeepers of the data, whose priority is to ensure that the technology enables compliance above all else. This group favors more time to be spent during the initial phase before technology is acquired. Do you see the issue? That is why Data Intelligence is key, as the approach to new technology procurement is different among the teams within the organization, for rightful reason.

Data Intelligence is built on what I call the Nine C’s: collaborating, consolidating, communicating, collecting, connecting, coordinating, changing, conversing, and converting – no matter how large or complex you think your business goals, objectives, and initiatives are. The Nine C’s provide insight into what is happening with the data by addressing the six reporter questions: why, who, what, when, where, and how, as addressed in my book.

To fully harness the power of Data Intelligence, it is important to address the various elements of human dynamics and behavior associated with the flow of data.

I find it helpful take a step back and use a metaphorical magnifying glass to identify the changes you need to make and ways you would apply them: What are the questions to ask based on interactions for using the data more intelligently? How to promote creativity, innovation, teamwork, and productivity during the technology acquisition process? Being aware of the strength and weakness of each approach while finding balance and addressing expectations.

There is no right or wrong approach to technology acquisition, as long as everyone is on the same page (or as close to it as possible) and the destination is clear.

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