There is no “Data”. There is only and always “Business Data”. Why this distinction? Well truth be told, “Data” is not sexy. It carries the geeky scent of IT. Nobody talks about “Processes” or “Rules”; it is always “Business Processes” or “Business Rules”. Appending the “Business” sends a strong signal that although this has a technology aspect; it is at the end of the day all about enabling “Business”. It is simply necessary to re-brand the “Data” concept in order to get traction in the business.
It is after all the business who defines the Rules, executes the Processes and … ta ta daa… produces and uses the Data. The problem that I often encounter is that this fact is not obvious.
Hence business people tend to ignore data, because “Data” in their opinion is synonymous with IT. The problem is accentuated by the fact that the IT acronym means “Information Technology” and that most IT people focus on the “Technology” part. Before I start to sound too self-righteous please know that I am a repeated offender myself.
Many companies brandish statements like “Our Customers is our most important asset” (try to use Google and include the quotation marks, I got 1.490.000 hits). There are literally millions of organizations with public statements concerning “Products”, “Customers”, “Service”, “Employees”, “Partners”, “Patients”, etc. The odd thing is that many of these organizations seem to ignore the fact that in today’s business environment you cannot separate the quality of your “business data” from your ability to deliver on these statements.
In order to function effectively a business process and the employees executing the process activities need good quality “Business Data”. A service engineer conducting a repair needs access to basic product specifications, previous service history, information on patches and versioning, installation location and probably some customer information as well. This is immaterial of whether the “Product” in question is a pump, a piece of medical equipment, software, a car or an industrial robot.
The service engineer also produces “Business Data”: He update the service history, by enriching information on patching and versioning and possibly even customer information. If either of the above “Business Data” is missing or wrong it costs wasted time and effort (at the very least) and can ultimately cause equipment breakdown or a lost customer.
In conclusion you need to link “Business Processes” and “Business Data” and acknowledge the link between them in order to put it on the “Business Agenda”.