Data Value: You Get What You Measure

By Peter Davey
July 30, 2020
9min read
Data governance diagram

As we roll our outsourced DPO clients onto their second 2 or 3 year contracts post GDPR, we are being increasingly challenged by leadership to enhance the value of their data function. There is a demand to move from delivering compliant and safe environments to providing value and innovation within the organisation. Ultimately a cost saving function turns into a drive for growth and profit.

How to measure Data Value?

In the data function, like in all other business functions, as managers we prove the truth of the old adage ‘you get what you measure’. Currently the metrics we tend to use are reactive and diagnostic. It can be argued that Subject Access Request stats are a good indicator of how much you piss off your staff and customers. Meanwhile, breach reports and investigations are great for shutting the door after the horse is long gone into the sunset. Number of staff given access to awareness and Data Champion training doesn’t tend to measure understanding. It is also not a reliable metric for change implementation across the organisation, unless other controls are put in place.

Data Quality

Here, at Castlebridge, we are increasingly looking at how to use different KPIs. They are to ensure that the data function is delivering competitive value and a sustainable platform for growth. Much can be learned from the quality arena. Improved data quality ensures that we can track and understand how ‘good’ our data and the processes around it are. Its value largely comes from delivering the outcomes the business needs. There may be a requirement to align a data strategy with the overall business strategy to achieve this. Thus you can avoid the trap of having your business needs and data strategy defined by the developers of tools.


The increased legislative focus on the protection of personal data has required many organisations to map their data landscape for the first time. It brought about the development of Registers of Processing Activities. This offers organisations a fantastic jumping off point to reap the benefits of active Master Data Management. It enables improved data integration, analytics and automation. In addition, it is also reducing rework and establishing a single golden source of a shared truth across the organisation.

Data Governance

The final area we are considering in our extended range of KPIs is Governance. It entails increased data literacy and skills to allow not just for the utilisation but also the appreciation of the data being generated and manipulated. Responsibility for data needs to move to functional business managers across the enterprise. It should no longer be considered an offshoot IT. Data is the basis of all evidence based decision-making and must be trusted and acted upon as such. Systems and controls need to be in place to allow for quantifying the ROI on the function.

To sum up…

In order to drive the data function forward it needs to move from a reactive, defensive posture to a proactive, enterprise wide value generating position. It requires a more forward thinking focus on what is to be delivered and where the value is to be found. In turn, this requires improved new metrics for those in the data function. Focus should be more on data quality, governance and MDM, for it is these areas that drive the intangible valuation of the new and increasing asset we call data. Just like brand valuations, it is increasingly common and possible to place a monetary valuation on the data asset of a firm, and at the moment the market is high.

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