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Anthony J. Algmin is the founder of Algmin Data Leadership and author of Data Leadership: Stop Talking About Data and Start Making an Impact! I spoke to him regarding why data leadership is so important for businesses and the impact COVID-19 is having on the world right now.
Anthony, data leadership is a new term for me. For others that are in my shoes, how would you explain what data leadership is?
In most companies, you have the business side of the house and you have the technology side. On the business side, companies know data is important, but they don’t know exactly what to do with it. And on the technology side, they develop many interesting things using data, which hopefully the business can use productively.
What I realized is there is a lack of proper calibration on either side. I see so many organizations doing a lot of data work, but what really matters is that a business increases revenue, decreases its cost, or improves its risk management. Those are the fundamental measures to the success of an organization and that’s really what data value is: applying the data to the business process. So the notion of data leadership is saying, “Hey, you have this untapped resource that you are literally squandering. And if you don’t apply it and make your business better with it, then your competitors will and you will lose.”
Having done data leadership for larger companies, what set you on the journey to start Algmin Data Leadership and work for yourself?
I think the reason I’m filling a need or blazing a trail with data leadership is that it hasn’t really been talked about before. I’ve had the opportunity to be both a technology developer, where I’m building data systems and sharing information, as well as being a business leader and understanding what boards and executive teams need from the data they have and what they’re trying to do with it.
Having both of those experiences throughout my career and realizing that neither side is really hearing the other side or understanding how to work together, I decided that was not acceptable. We have to do a better job of becoming a singular business that leverages data to be more efficient and that needs to drive us more than the specific functions or specific technologies. We need to become better at working together to achieve a shared outcome that we both depend on.
Having experience on both sides of the spectrum. Does this allow for a more structured or well-rounded approach to your work in data leadership?
It’s given me a perspective that not too many people have had the opportunity to see. Talking about data leadership and trying to explain it where it resonates on both sides is really my goal. Helping draw those two different aspects of our businesses together is what my life’s work is about. I feel very fortunate to have found it.
When we’re talking specifically about receiving data and processing it over from the business side to the technology side, what would we see in the data that would benefit the business?
Let’s start with what kinds of things we would benefit from as a business. One of the examples I like to think about is, say you have a small restaurant with different amounts of sales on a regular basis. Maybe you have an increase in sales when the weather is nice outside and then not so much when it’s raining outside. If you know that, or if you suspect it, then you can look at some data and compare it against your sales to say, “Okay tomorrow it’s supposed to be 20 degrees outside and freezing cold. Should we have extra hands? Or should we have a little bit less?”
Something as simple as that can really impact your bottom line. Why? You’ll have wasted less ingredients, you’ll be able to manage staff more effectively, and you’ll be able to prepare the things you need to do in the front and back of house for the day. But maybe instead of weather, it could also be events like the current virus outbreak. Right now we are seeing an unprecedented change and we don’t know what’s going to happen. But if we have a suspicion of what might impact our business, we can put some data behind it and become more confident about what we’re going to do in the future and deliver better outcomes.
You made reference to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) which we have been affected by across the globe. Have you seen anything with businesses you work with directly or indirectly where data has saved them in the time of need?
I think the first and most obvious thing we’ve seen is a massive shift to working remotely. One of my clients right now is a pretty high-tech organization with a huge supply chain and a lot of different moving parts. Because they do already have a distributed workforce and many of their employees work from home once a week, they are in a much better position than a lot of other businesses out there. I think we’re going to see the ones that have a good data driven supply chain and the ability to adapt quickly in their business model, make the biggest difference.
With the quick shift in our work lives, have you noticed an abundance of small businesses reaching out to you, wanting to implement a data system to sort of, catch up with the curve and ultimately get ahead of it?
It’s mostly in triage mode. Everybody’s looking internally to try and figure out how to get our footing and get past this immediate shock. I think the business world and the markets are absolutely in shock today. Once we start to see news slow down and people start to realize this is what it might look like as we come out of this, you’re going to see more strategic actions being taken. We will begin to ask the questions, how do we survive the next month? Two-months? Quarter? Year? Hopefully, we can come out of this even stronger because there will be new business opportunities in a recovering world. Right now we’re just trying to hold on until we flatten out.
You were scheduled at the Enterprise Data World Conference in San Diego until it was ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19. On March 19th you are scheduled for a webinar with Bob Seiner and Dataversity, what is Dataversity?
Enterprise Data World Conferences is my favorite event of the year and it’s heartbreaking that we had to cancel it, but it’s understandable given the circumstances. One thing we will do is record the various sessions, then those sessions will be made available to the people that were registered for the event. Dataversity has really done an amazing amount of work with the kind of broader data management community and they have some fantastic online training resources and free web-based resources for people that are trying to learn more about data management.
You’ve written a book that is the first of its kind, Data Leadership: Stop Talking About Data and Start Making an Impact! What’s the implied take away from this book?
The goal for my book is to be the kind of book that somebody who attends a Dataversity event would share with their leadership team back in the office. Data leadership is about helping the business side understand why data is important and what they can do about it. In particular, the book was designed to be something that was readable and accessible and relatively easy to digest for those on the business side.
What’s next for Anthony Algmin?
I’m actually developing a video podcast, so I’m going to be doing a lot of interviews with colleagues in data leadership. There are so many good stories out there that I want to share with people. We’re doing a video podcast on YouTube and then I’m creating an audio podcast from those recordings to distribute as a regular series. That’ll hopefully be coming out in the next couple of months.
Click here for more info on Anthony’s Dataversity webinar appearance on March 19, 2019.
How do you utilize data leadership to sustain your business? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.