International Finance
Event Review Magazine May - June 2018

How can Companies Ensure Core Data Responsibilities are Included in Key Roles?

Ahead of the 7th Business Performance Management Conference, we spoke with Anwar Mirza, Global Head of Data Governance at TNT, about the importance of data management and how can companies ensure core Data responsibilities are included in key roles

Can you please elaborate on the importance of data management in the business?
Businesses that have started up in the last 15-20 years will be more likely to have Data Management as a focus area and therefore will have established the Data Management as a function from the outset. For organisations that are older, the data explosion has forced them into formally addressing ‘the data problem’ for many reasons but mainly in order to ensure compliance with data protection legislation requirements (such as GDPR), brand protection in case of data breaches, and the need to ensure success of Digital Transformation initiatives. In addition, there is high demand from Data Analytics/Warehousing consumers as well as strategic imperatives of improved transparency, and last but not least, the Customer, Vendor and Employee demand.

The main reason however, is by far, the fact that well-constructed data insights are able to open new markets, attract new customers, and bring new opportunities to every business.

How can ‘Data’ be tangibly applied to the ‘top and bottom’ line of a company?
This is not for the faint-hearted! It is a complex journey and requires a cohesive end-to-end strategy on how data is embedded and consumed by an organisation. A key responsibility of a Chief Data Officer is to make the organisation aware of the value of data at a corporate level and the value of the data dealt with by an individual. Virtually every C-level officer will agree that data needs to be treated as an asset.

My suggestion is that it is vital to apply a detailed understanding of the drivers of key business processes along with the use of a specialised application of Time or Activity Based Management, and finally, a structured sourcing, preparation, and processing of the data.

As mentioned, this is not a mini project and requires a huge amount of cross-functional department collaboration. By being able to show a movement in the unit cost through poor data quality, the impacts can be extended into core areas such as Pricing, Cost-to-Serve Customer, Cost Management, Transfer Pricing etc.

I therefore strongly believe that it is possible to tangibly value our data! The real question should be “If the C-level thinks data is an asset, why aren’t we all putting a tangible value to data?”

How can Companies ensure core Data Responsibilities are included in key roles?
In order to answer this, we need to first look at what the challenges are. One of the issues encountered, is that the data subject is broad in its scope. Secondly, Business Owners have not historically accepted responsibility for their own data and IT have not done a good job in explaining the data subject to the Business Owners. Another issue involves the ever-changing technology creating a shortage of experienced and skilled data practitioners which goes hand in hand with the lack of education for the data subject. Another challenge involves the new segregation of duties for matters relating to data.

Each of the above points needs to be therefore addressed if we are to ensure the Data Responsibilities are properly embedded in the organisation.

Firstly, a formal Data training programme is required at each job function. What’s more, organisations need to formally agree on the roles required in the business and IT. Thereafter, one must define which activities will become automated and which roles need to be reskilled. Consequently, necessary training must be provided for the reskilled workforce. Finally, according to the newly defined data processes, service levels and workflow approvals must be agreed upon.

As the frequency of innovation and improved technology increases, the subject of Data Management is becoming broader, almost by the day. This poses the challenge of how to train the organisation and maintain up-to-date content with which to educate the organisation.

Once the technology change is managed, the underlying process changes are relatively easier to manage. The next challenge is to regularly train and retrain the workforce. It is essential to recognise that the next generation workforce requires a different set of skills. This requires a structured and ongoing internal Data training programme along with a management commitment to reskill the workforce. At the risk of stating the obvious, formally defined roles and responsibilities are essential. These have an essential part to play in a successful ‘social media style’ collaboration environment which will guide both management and workforce through to success.

There isn’t a silver bullet, however, I don’t think anyone would disagree that once teams are aware and properly trained about the impacts ‘Data’ has, they will see the benefits and naturally absorb responsibility.

In a world of constant change, does budget have its place?
This question needs to be asked very carefully and in a specific use case or context. If a person is held accountable for spend according to a set frequency and at specific points in time, then yes, we do need budgets for that.

In my personal view, I feel that nearly everything must change in the areas of budgeting, planning, and forecasting. With the introduction of Machine Learning, Predictive Analytics, advanced Visualisation and RPA, we can increase the frequency of our reviews, forecasts and budgets. With the new technology, the accuracy of the predictions allows for much faster remedial actions. The more advanced companies are already capable of forecasted P&Ls with a very high degree of accuracy. The ability to adjust budgets should not be far behind that.

What would you like to achieve by attending the 7th Business Performance Management Conference?
I have four objectives and reasons to attend the 7th BPM conference. Firstly, I want to get feedback on a personally developed Data Governance framework and understand how companies are implementing the above either in part, in full, beyond, or not at all. Moreover, I would like to see where Performance Management specialists find white spots or consistent obstacles in terms of ‘Data’ hindering the ability to do their jobs as well as to find companies or individuals with whom I can share and develop best practices. Finally, I look forward to meeting delegates and the organising team at marcus evans.

About Anwar:

Anwar is a recognised authority on the subject of Data Governance, Master Data Management and Information Management. For the last decade, he has spoken at numerous global events covering forums for Analytics, Finance, HR, IT, Legal, Mobile, Shared Services etc. Anwar’s keynotes, panels and Masterclasses are a balanced blend of cross‐functional, business and IT perspectives presented in a logical flow. Anwar has developed his own unique Data Governance methodology and deep‐dives into the critical areas that companies often struggle with and prescribes ‘Data’ as the new business imperative. His approach has been adopted by many multi‐national companies, software companies and consulting firms in the USA, Australia, Asia and Europe. With 29 years of experience at TNT, Anwar has a proven track record in Functional management, global project delivery, controlling core business processes, managing large teams, implementing applications and technology presented in the form of tangible top and bottom line benefits from the outset. For the past 6 years, Anwar has dedicated much of his personal time to lecturing at University level with a personal objective of bringing ‘Data’ into mainstream education.

The 7th Business Performance Management will take place from 23rd to 25th May, 2018 at Berlin, Germany

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