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DATA is the Value Creator, Technology is only an Enabler.

Many leaders highlight the fact that they run technology companies. I respectfully disagree, because technology is only an enabler and DATA is the value creator. Leaders and associates have to embrace the notion that they work at DATA companies that are enabled by Technology - not at technology companies that generate digital exhaust in the form of data.

"DATA is the value creator. Technology is only an enabler."

In 2016, I authored two books on data-driven leadership - Data-Driven Leaders Always Win: The Essential Guide For Leaders in the Age of Data and Data-Driven Leadership: A New Leadership Paradigm in the Digital Age, to highlight the fact that we're living in the "Age of Data" and that data-driven firms have a competitive advantage and deliver better business results. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Tesla are examples of the new data-driven companies that are disrupting traditional rivals by innovating using data.

Maturing Data Management, Analytics, and Data Governance (DAG)

The focus should be on maturing a firm's DAG capabilities to drive out-sized business outcomes from DATA, utilizing technology as an enabler. Most firms have trouble maturing their DAG because they've accumulated data-debt in the form of data fragmentation, poor quality data, data silos, broken data supply chain, lack of data standards, and a complex data architecture.

A good starting point is to assess the maturity of the data management capabilities by conducting a data management maturity (DMM) assessment (see the 'Additional Reading' section for related articles). The DMM will inform the data strategy and execution roadmap to enable them to reduce the data-debt over time. DMM focuses on assessing processes and capabilities across five areas: Data Governance, Data Quality, Data Platforms and Architecture, Data Operations, and Data Management strategy.

"Firms have to start competing on Data."

In the "Age of Data" firms have to utilize People, Process, Technology, and DATA to deliver out-sized business outcomes. They have to embrace the fact that DATA is the value creator, and technology is an enabler. Therefore, maturing their DAG capabilities is key to success.

A data management maturity assessment is a good first step, which will provide some insights into the level of maturity of individual data management and governance capabilities (i.e., ad-hoc to optimal). The results of this assessment can be used to develop a data strategy and execution roadmap - using business outcomes (e.g., operational efficiency, better insights, innovation, profitability, reduced costs, etc.) and risk factors (e.g., data privacy and security, data provenance, data catalog, and data quality) as the anchors.

About Jay Zaidi

Jay is the Founder and Managing Partner of AlyData - a consulting firm specializing in all things DATA. My team and I help CXOs drive out-sized business outcomes from their data assets — through our CDO Advisory, Data Governance, Data Risk Management, and Insights consulting services. We've developed proprietary frameworks and methodologies and utilities for data risk management, data governance, and data quality - which enable us to deliver high-quality solutions faster. To learn more or get in touch, visit

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