Open Space 2: Data Leadership and the Triple Bottom Line

Participants: David Vogt, Matthew McCauley, Cameron Scott, Vojtech Sedlak, Loren Mullane, Ray Harris, Peter McLachlan, Peter Watkins, David Wrate, Hugh Stimson

How Does Data Leadership Impact the Triple Bottom Line?

This post is a summary of the Open Space discussion at the November 17th Data Leadership Summit

This question was inspired during morning session discussions on Data Maturity Models and governance, etc., which aim to provide a framework for ensuring value generation across the enterprise. 

The challenge was phrased as follows: if data is considered an expanding, highly liquid form of enterprise 'capital', how can data management be truly "mature" until it is leveraged exactly like money to help fulfill a mature organization's triple bottom line (financial, social and environmental objectives)?  In other words, how should organizations be investing their data assets to achieve social and ecological purpose, strategically serving as an accelerant to profitability?

The example given derived from Adam Wiener's Redfin presentation earlier in the morning. The real estate data Redfin collects could be readily employed to help communities determine where and when to build schools, for example, which would ultimately strengthen communities as well as consolidate Redfin's core value proposition in those communities.

A healthy discussion ensued on some of the wide-ranging dimensions of this topic, with general consensus on the following points:

  • An organization's data actually has far greater potential value to the triple bottom line than money alone. Data, being contexted, conveys intelligence as well as brand value, in a naturally renewable form. Money is just money, whereas data has meaning.
  • Organizations who can cultivate triple-bottom-line maturity involving data will have a significant market advantage. Creating advantage from this opportunity requires cultivating the vision of senior executives. The IT and marketing people who currently employ data are typically paralyzed regarding possible external data investments due to hypersensitivity on issues such as leaks of corporate intelligence, privacy, etc.  And the senior executives who manage such risk in order to achieve corporate objectives are not nearly as sophisticated about data as they are about managing financial returns.
  • We are missing the organizations who can help others to leverage the triple-bottom-line value of their data. There was strong resonance at our table discussion (to a suggestion arising at a nearby table) that governments and enterprises would benefit from a neutral brokerage that could build the markets where such triple bottom line value could be achieved.