A game plan for assembling and integrating data is essential. Companies are buried in information that’s frequently siloed horizontally across business units or vertically by function. Critical data may reside in legacy IT systems that have taken hold in areas such as customer service, pricing, and supply chains. Complicating matters is a new twist: critical information often resides outside companies, in unstructured forms such as social-network conversations.
Making this information a useful and long-lived asset will often require a large investment in new data capabilities. Plans may highlight a need for the massive reorganization of data architectures over time: sifting through tangled repositories (separating transactions from analytical reports), creating unambiguous golden-source data, and implementing data-governance standards that systematically maintain accuracy. In the short term, a lighter solution may be possible for some companies: outsourcing the problem to data specialists who use cloud-based software to unify enough data to attack initial analytics opportunities.