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Taking Data Strategy from Theory to Practice

Rogayeh Tabrizi, CEO and co-founder of data science firm Theory + Practice shares her advice on creating a data strategy to drive success in a fast-changing business landscape

Modern businesses create a lot of data. But like many raw materials, data needs to be worked on before it can release its potential.  

In this week’s episode of the Business of Data Podcast, Rogayeh Tabrizi, CEO, and co-founder of data science firm Theory + Practice shares her experiences of working with some of the world’s largest companies as they seek to leverage one of their most under-used assets.

“Most of these organizations [we’ve worked with] are sitting on a lot of data and nobody quite knows what to do with it,” Tabrizi says.

She continues: “I started talking with CMOs and CPOs and sometimes directly with CEOs, and it was really fantastic to see that they really care about truly benefiting from one of their most unused assets. But there is a translation gap.”

Defining a Strategic ‘North Star’

According to Tabrizi, focusing too narrowly on ‘use cases’ or on individual data issues risks missing the biggest strategic benefits of having a data-led business.

“Our priorities are going to change every other day,” she says. “So, like any other very important decision when it comes to business, you need to have a strategy and that strategy needs to be informed by purpose and by a vision.”

She continues: “Not that anything in business is simple. Nothing is simple. But there is yet another level of complexity with data as in the skills that it takes to actually extract those signals are difficult.”

Activating the Value of Data  

The pandemic led to companies increasing their focus on customer behavior. And, of course, data has a key role in understanding the dynamics at play.

“When you think about how you interact with your customers differently, that means you have to try to know what are some of the things that actually drive your customers’ behaviors in these online environments,” Tabrizi says. “And that might be a little bit different from the offline environments.”

She continues: “The root of their behavior, their preferences, what they like, and what they want. Those things most probably haven’t completely changed due to the pandemic. But the channels that people are going to interact with, they have changed.”

Emerging stronger from the pandemic means understanding what that ‘strategic North Star’ is, and activating the value in data to light the way forward.

“That's the piece that people are truly looking for,” Tabrizi says. “Intelligence out of data.”

She concludes, “We're not talking about only statistics. We're not just talking about looking into the past. But truly looking at the future and then asking ourselves, 'how are we actually going to activate the insights and the intelligence that we have?'”

Key Findings

Communicate the business benefits of data. Business leaders care about doing more with data – we just have to show them how. 

Do the basics first. If disparate systems and data sets can’s speak to each other then more advanced data practices are destined to fail.  

Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. Build environments that allow you to experiment in a controlled environment.