In today’s digital environment senior leaders are subjected to streams of data from many sources in both their professional and personal lives. And the blur between the two becomes increasingly hard to manage as the devices we carry with us every day are multitasking both sides of our lives every minute, in the palm of our hands or on laptops. Email accounts, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, subscriptions of all kinds, and other forms of social media along with many others.
This overwhelming, excessive amount of data, can be just as debilitating as too little information. An unfortunate example of this was the informational disorganization of the intelligence and first responder communities during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. According to the commission that studied the attacks there was an abundance of information, but it wasn’t shared amongst all the agencies.
Analysis wasn’t pooled across individuals and groups. Handoffs of information between senior teams was missed and therefore effective, preemptive, operations could not be launched.
“From details of this case” the commission wrote, “one can see how hard it is for the intelligence community to assemble the right pieces of the puzzle or to make sense of them”.
Although not nearly as dramatic as this example, executives at all levels are drowning in disparate, unorganized streams of information and data that don’t fit into the puzzle. It used to be hard to get the data, now it’s impossible to know which data to use, where it’s all stored, how to apply it properly or what’s to be done with it. Never has it been truer, that a “data dump” would be exactly that – a dump.
This is very evident in todays’ current working environment. Decentralization of information services has fostered the proliferation of different data processing programs across many parts of the organization. From division to division, team to team or even within a team itself, over time.
A problem that is compounded daily by mergers and acquisitions or simply through attrition, with employees coming and going throughout the organization and keeping data to themselves on their laptops or on personal hard drives. Or worse yet, it all gets stored on “the cloud” somewhere, and it’s impossible to wade your way through it.
In addition, and more often than not, through M&A‘s or combining of divisions, the formally independent entities rely on hardware or software that differ in fundamental ways from each other. From dashboards, to data delivery, down to the code itself. With no one in the organization having the secret decoder ring anymore!
Data disorder then takes on many forms that become increasingly hard to cure. Since we are overwhelmed with the data, we attempt to decipher what’s useful and what’s not on our own. And given the complexity and cost associated with deciphering it, sometimes we end up scraping it all together. Thus, relying on anecdotal data gathered the old fashion way – asking questions, sharing of white papers, individual internet research and water cooler conversations, instead of systematic business intelligence.
Why is this important? In today’s business arena, traditional measurements of success no longer hold up. And the reasons are all digital – the devices executives use in their lives, the paths they take towards data acquisition and purchase intent, where and how the data is stored and their engagement with disruptive unsynchronized data streams, make defining the data journey all that much more difficult.
Winning it requires using different muscles, developing a different set of strengths both internally and from trusted partners. And finally, leaning-in and separating your work and personal data streams to give your brain a rest, so you can partial heal your own personal version of data disorder, if you choose to!
Jon Maron worked as Nortal’s VP of Sales and Business Development in North America. He is an award winning marketing and communications executive who has led marketing strategies for Fortune 500 such as Sony, LG, Mitsubishi, HTC and INRIX. Maron has all the tools to help US companies comply with GDPR.