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Data is always a late consideration in a product or service. Thinking about it upfront opens up new possibilities.

Developing Data Products, A Methodology | MoData

What is a Data Product?Technically speaking, a 'data product' is an insight or tool created out of existing or purposely acquired raw data that can be used to improve decision making, generally by clients, consumers or other organizations.

These insights may be simple, such as informing a buyer of available inventory three months into the future to help them make better purchasing plans. It may involve benchmarking, where a supplier is presented with how their service levels compare to all other suppliers. It may extend to providing consumer services, such as providing consumers a directory of all the best products.

For any organization, there is not only revenue, but competitive advantage to be gained in developing data products. Possible data products will depend on the organization's internal systems, its customers and their customers and the mindset with regarding to sharing information up and down the value chain. Coordinating this creativity is the 'Data Product Manager'

In this post, we provide a high level methodology for identifying and shaping data products.

Methodology for developing data products:

  1. Understand all areas of the business (especially support functions)
  2. Inventory all data in all repositories (especially in transactional systems)
  3. Catalog all insights and where those insights are being used to inform business decisions inside your organization to improve performance at all levels
  4. Understand your customer's business and the types of decision they are making and what information they are using to inform those decisions
  5. Understand your customers customers, what do they look for and what do they value, where are their pain points
  6. Now ask the question what information do we possess that would help our customers that when added to our customers information could be used to help their customers
  7. What information might be available in the public domain that might help (social media, weather, geography etc.) whether free or paid for
  8. Is there any information that each of our customers might have that they might share with us that when aggregated might help all the customers
  9. What incentives could be put in place to get the clients to share that information
  10. Is there any application that could be offered to customers customers that would be useful

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Good point. Be proactive!

Typical Business Intelligence project:

Client IT: We need some reports built, we're using [Oracle | SAP | IBM | Actuate | Microstrategy] for our data warehouse. It should be really easy, we've implemented the ERP system and we've designed the warehouse schema for exactly that purpose, to produce those management reports and analytics. 

BI Consultant: That's great, we're going to speak to the business users to better understand how their business runs and what the behaviors need to be encouraged or changed and then to determine the metrics.

Client IT: That's great, go talk to them

BI Consultant:  Hey, we've spoken to the business users, we've worked with them to map out their processes and now we have a really good idea of what reports and analyses they need to make better decisions. So here's the data we're going to need to provide that.

Client IT: Hmmm, we don't have much of that data in the warehouse. We don't actually collect that in the application either. How did you figure out you needed it?

BI Consultant:  Well when we spoke to be business users, we looked behind their processes and we tried to understand the customers that they were serving. We found that the customers were doing this because they didn't have this piece of information and that was the problem that your users were needing to deal with. And so if they had this report, then the problem would effectively go away.

Client IT: But we're not collecting that data now and the system is in QA now so we can't hold the release because there is a lot of stuff that depends on it. So you'll have to wait until the next release until you can get the data. 

BI Consultant:  So we'll put that part of the project on hold until the next release, but we do need to get that data element added in.

[6 months later]

Client IT: So looking at the status report, you're 6 months late delivering these 10 reports, that's a serious matter, what do you have to say about it... 

I wish that was less common, Mo. Anticipating and planning make a huge difference in business.

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