Behind the Buzzword: ‘Data as an Asset’

The latest advice for companies striving to become data-driven is to ‘manage data as an asset’. But what does that actually mean? In this article, we’ll dive into what it means to have ‘data assets’, why you need them, and how to manage them effectively.

What does it mean to manage ‘data as an asset’?

Data creates value for a company. It’s utilised to inform business decisions, and draw insights that can translate into profit for an organisation. 

Data can be as much of an asset as the people, inventory or technology that a company owns. However, many businesses still treat it as a by-product, leaving their data in an ‘unrefined’ state where it is of limited value. 

To manage data as an asset is to adopt essential principles for that data that you would apply to any asset or resource, e.g. understanding the value to the business, mitigating risks to the asset, and documenting ownership and use. Adopting these principles, can remove a lot of the complexity associated with data management, making it easier for the business to manage data and to use it to generate value.

What is a ‘data asset’?

A data asset is a dataset or data solution that is managed and invested in to bring value to the business. Data that the business owns, that is not yet driving value, is not considered an asset.

How do I start managing my data as an asset?

‘Managing your data as an asset’ applies many of the principles that we use for managing business assets to data. For example, businesses typically have a view of the assets they have, the risks that those assets are vulnerable to, and any future opportunities for an asset. 

To begin managing data as an asset, we first need to know the assets in use and what value they bring to your organisation. It’s also important to know the risks associated with each asset, like what would happen if you lost it, as well as the processes necessary to get the most out of your data asset. So where should you start?

Step 1: Identify the assets you currently have.

List the data points (like customer data), or data solutions (like dashboards) that are used today within the business. 

Once you identify the data assets that are driving value within your organisation, it’s important to also understand:

  • Who uses the asset
  • Asset dependencies, e.g. where the underlying data comes from & how it is prepared

An optional step is to rank these assets according to the value they are driving in your organization. Using this information you can determine priority and reveal areas for improvement.

Step 2: Identify potential assets that your business could develop

The next step is to identify potential assets for development. One way to do this is to start by identifying opportunities to increase the value of existing data. For example, combining customer details from multiple systems or stores can increase the value of that data, by giving you a view of everything that customer purchases.

Another way to identify potential assets for business development is to identify solutions that can be developed to offer business intelligence. This means taking data that is producing little to no value and using it to generate useful insights about your business, or potentially creating a customer-facing product from existing business data.

Step 3: Collaborate with business units to manage assets

Many data assets today are primarily utilised by a business unit that uses a solution or produces the data. As the consumer of that ‘asset’ the business unit typically has the best view of risks to that asset, and potential opportunities for future use. Allocating the responsibility of ‘data asset management’ to the business team is a great way to bring the business in on data management activities, and can work really well as a strategy to improve data literacy.

What’s Next?

Need support in data management? Our expert team can help you understand your data assets, build a data strategy, build a data capability or deliver data products for your organisation. Speak to a member of our team today for more information.

Alternatively, you can find more information on the types of problems we solve on our Services Page.