Yet Another Maturity Curve to Climb

What is the one maturity curve you absolutely must climb to survive?  What is the one strategic initiative you simply cannot sweep under the rug if you want to thrive?

Sometimes when presented with a new “maturity curve” we can react with a big “whatever.”  We’ve seen them in many forms – maturity curves for digital journey, growth stage, continuous improvement, diversity & inclusion, and so on.  And while these are all important strategically, it can be overwhelming to decide which curves to climb all at once.  Worse yet, depending on employee engagement, senior leadership example, organizational agility, or external forces, sometimes individuals or organizations can simply fold on one or more maturity curves entirely.  As a sage strategist once said, “Failed initiatives don’t explode with a dramatic mushroom cloud over corporate HQ, they die quietly and get swept under the rug.”

But over the next 10 years, what’s the one maturity curve you absolutely must climb to survive?  What’s the one strategic initiative you simply cannot sweep under the rug if you want to thrive in your industry?

It’s data maturity.  You’ll find a variety of data maturity curves out there, some tailored to technologists and operations managers (1), others to strategic planners and senior management (2).  But the basic idea is to move from a culture where good data is hard to find and expert opinion rules the roost, all the way up to an organization where data is managed as an asset and data-literate decision-makers receive the precise insights they need in the right place at the right time.

So what’s in between there?  Well, first, a lot of reflection and some soul searching, including:

  • Taking a hard look at how well data is managed today,
  • Asking where decision quality may be lacking,
  • Asking whether data efforts are supporting business strategy, and
  • Holding up the mirror on organizational data literacy, skills, & culture.

If you’re diligent on the above points and carry your discovery process to logical, honest conclusions, you wind up with a solid data strategy – good start!  Now commit to implementing it

For most organizations, now it’s a good idea to really consider what data infrastructure investments may be required to support your business strategy.  This doesn’t have to mean you overhaul your technology platforms all at once – modern cloud services and even well-thought-out on-premise enterprise data architectures can scale incrementally.  Gradual investments can be made to support projects that have real strategic value, in concert with normal budget cycles.  And a smart project portfolio approach can even mean low-cost, fast payback projects get prioritized right out of the gate, creating a self-funding growth engine to help you climb the data maturity curve.

So you’ve established your strategy, you’ve built a data platform, you’ve even had some successful analytics projects.  Congratulations!  But here is where it often gets challenging – for some reason, you plateau.  The projects become harder.  You question your investments.  You sense misgivings among staff.  What is happening?  Well, this is where you begin to realize – perhaps again – that technology deployment doesn’t magically improve business process, establish effective performance management, or change culture.  To leverage your data assets for insights that fuel better decisions and improve business performance for the long haul, you have to get back to basics.  Can you drive out waste in key business processes?  Can you incent the right behaviors on the right metrics?  Can you get a critical mass of staff to embrace digital transformation efforts and become a data-driven culture?

You can, and really, you must.  Can you really imagine still being in business 10 years from now and not competing on data and analytics?  If you can, your imagination is better than mine – this from a guy who does imagine mushroom clouds on the skyline when initiatives fail.

To have a conversation with Josh and Keller Schroeder’s Data Strategy Group about data maturity or implementing your organization’s data strategy, please contact us today.

Written By:

Josh Pack, PhD
Principal Consultant
Data Strategy Group



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