The Truth About Data: Beware the Big Buzzword Wolf

Don’t get lured off your data path by acronyms and buzzwords. They might look like a shortcut, but they won’t always lead you to where you need to go. Amplifi are here to help you stick to your core data goals and deliver the results you really need.

You set out on your data journey, basket of fresh data-driven business promises in hand, ready to deliver them to your stakeholders. The sun is shining, you’re confident you can get there in time, and the path is clear before you.

But now you’re actually on your way, it’s starting to feel like a longer journey than you thought. There are more obstacles in the way than you expected. You’ve been drenched by a sudden downpour of demands from different areas of the business. And some of those data-driven business promises are starting to look a bit stale and unappealing.

Along comes the big buzzword wolf: a product or tool or trend that seems to have the answer to everything, wrapped up in a neat acronym or catch-all phrase. Before you know it, you’re following it off your path – and further away from the core data goals you wanted to achieve…

Before we go any further, let’s get something very clear. The big buzzword wolf isn’t actually asking you to follow it – it just seems so enticing, its promises so compelling. PMDM. Business 360. CDP. AI. It’s so easy to perceive them as perfect, fix-all solutions in an industry that’s overrun with complex language. And if you’re being completely honest with yourself, you were already on the lookout for a shortcut: some way that you can deliver faster – maybe even better – results.

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Unfortunately, there is never a shortcut. Buzzwords, acronyms, trends – they all have benefits to offer, but they can be more of a hindrance than a help if they distract you from what you really need from your data.

The truth is, if you step off your path to follow the buzzword in search of full 360 business views or AI-powered CMDM or the like, you’re still going to hit the same obstacles on the way. You’re still going to need to cover the same distance in terms of data quality initiatives and processes and structures. You’re still going to have the same problems with data culture and buy-in and all the rest. What you might not get is the outcomes you really wanted or needed in the first place – and you could end up pushing your data strategy backwards rather than forwards.

So how can you keep your data strategy on track and not get distracted? Here are Amplifi’s tips to getting what you really need from your data project:

Choose your destination

Before you do anything, you need to know where you want to go. What’s your data priority? Are you looking for better supply chain management, a way to address sustainability through data, a clearer view of your customers, a way to tighten up costs and processes, better all-round data quality? You need to understand the objective of your data project if you want to have any hope of getting there. The more vague your goal, the easier it is to get lured off-track along the way. It’s incredible how many data projects are started without a clear goal in mind, as organisations look to ‘fix their data’ instead of using data as a means to get to a business objective.

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Understand what you need to do to get there

If you want a 360-degree view of your customers, for instance, you need reliable customer data. If you want reliable customer data, you need to tackle your data quality. To tackle data quality, you need the right data governance in place to establish and maintain data standards. Before you set out, you need to understand that there are certain landmarks that every data strategy needs to hit, whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. These core data tenets – such as data quality, data governance, migration, etc – are always going to be needed, and while there might be tools and tricks that can make them easier and more effective, there isn’t a tool on the planet that can ‘fix’ them in an instant.

Tackle obstacles, don’t try to avoid them

When you encounter problems on your data journey – like poor data quality, or resistance to new data processes – don’t look for a way around them. Tackle them head on. If you have poor quality data, no tool is going to make it better on its own: as we so often say at Amplifi, ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’. Likewise, if you’re hitting resistance from people, bringing in a new solution isn’t going to miraculously change their behaviour. You need to find out what’s causing their reticence and discover how to communicate the project in a way that everyone can get behind.

Keep an eye out for the big buzzword wolf

Buzzwords and acronyms aren’t bad – they are a product of an industry that’s constantly evolving to tackle new data challenges and deliver new benefits for its customers. Technology vendors aren’t trying to lure you away from your data goals, they’re trying to help you reach them – you just need to know when and how to use them. The trick is learning to understand when a tool is really what you need, and when it’s a distraction. AI is a good case in point – almost every business wants AI-driven data insights, but most have much more basic data concerns they have to address first. If you start chasing AI before you’ve covered your basic data management, it’s going to be a long time until you see any tangible business results. You could even end up creating more problems with data than you solve.

That’s why Gartner, and most vendors, recommend partner-led technology selection and delivery. Experts like yours truly can help you really get to grips with what you need from data, identify the right tools for the task, and make sure you’ve covered all of the groundwork you need to make implementation a success.

To uncover more home truths about data, download our latest guide below: 'The Truth About Data'.

The Truth About Data

Here, we put data management in the spotlight to reveal the truth about data, including...

  • De-mystifying the acronym economy
  • Data Governance shortcuts for your business
  • Data foundations every organisation needs
  • The limitations of technology
  • How to navigate 'industry insights'
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