Protecting Your Castle with a Data Moat

The Data Moat

Does your organization collect data? Is it one of the 97% (yes, you read that correctly: 97%!) of organizations that don’t meet basic data collection standards? Do you know how to use data to not only execute your organization’s mission, but also see how to push your mission forward?

Data collection and use is an incredibly useful tool, but there are many ways that it can fail. This led us to the concept of a data moat that our CTO Jerry Ramey and CEO Jade Baranksi introduced on the FORCECON22 stage. In their presentation, they walked through what a data moat is and how handling your data properly can help you build a moat protecting your castle: supporting and defending the central organization’s (the castle’s) mission and continued existence.

Photo of Mobilize CTO

Photo of CTO Jerry Ramey and CEO Jade Baranksi taking the stage at FORCECON22 to present the Data Moat concept.

There are four major considerations that can make your data moats more or less challenging to bridge:

Knowing Your End Goals
Where is your data going to take you? If you don’t know why you are collecting data and what you are going to do with it, your organization will struggle to determine what data needs to be gathered and measured.

Disconnected Data
Data silos can be a real problem. Are your applications sharing data with each other, or do you have records changing in one data bank without propagating changes to related records in other data sources? This can create mismatched, outdated information – a data administrator’s nightmare.

Formatted Data
How are you capturing, storing, retrieving, and displaying data? It is all too easy to collect the same pieces of data in varying formats, leading to mismatches or faulty data. For example, consider capturing a user’s phone number: it seems simple, but if you don’t enforce specific formatting in your data collection, you can end up with a wide range of formats: 555-555-5555; (555) 555-5555; 555 555 5555; 1 (555) 555-5555; etc. This leads to problems with cross-referencing data or creating and storing multiple duplicated records, leading us to…

Does your organization maintain multiple systems that each contain data? This creates different sources for the same information, which can quickly lead to incorrect information in one location or another. Even if your organization has fewer systems, human error (typos or unintentionally adding data multiple times) can cause duplication, which creates noise in your data.

Next Steps
So how can you defend your data moats? Start by taking a step back and analyzing your data before you start to collect it. Think about why you are collecting data and how you will use it over time. Next, develop a plan to collect the data and consider how to format it to be most useful.

If you approach your data collection strategically and make necessary adjustments to your process of gathering and storing data, your organization can build a drawbridge across the moat to the castle waiting on the other side. And don’t be daunted – you don’t need to build the drawbridge all at once. Your data collection will probably never be perfect, but by avoiding adding new moats and by building a bridge across one existing data moat at a time, your organization can get to the castle!

Hopefully this has you ready to start looking at your organization’s data moats! If you are interested in a deeper dive, watch our presentation at FORCECON22 and then download The Data Moat whitepaper.

Want to connect with our team? If you are interested in how Mobilize can assist you in preventing your data moats, or in new approaches to your data, please reach out. You can also connect with Jerry on LinkedIn.

Read more about FORCECON 2022 on the AETC website.