Anwar Mirza, Data Strategy and Governance, FedEx
Data. No other business issue has been so consistently prevalent in recent times. Every company, function and leader wants to know how to better leverage data to deliver improved business outcomes and most companies face challenges doing so. Anwar Mirza, in charge of Data Strategy and Governance at FedEx, gave us his perspective on how to think about data governance in the current volatile environment and how finance leaders should approach data in the future,
“The reason why so many companies struggle with it,” Anwar says, “is because while most company-wide initiatives are actioned from the top-down, data and data governance needs work from bottom to top at the same time. So it takes a lot longer than other initiatives.”
Data Literacy Programme
In order to do this, communication is key. “Everyone needs to be aware of what their data responsibilities are. In other words, you need a strong data literacy programme”. Unfortunately, this depends on your company size. “Larger companies can create the infrastructure for data literacy through teaching, coaching and training services. Smaller companies don’t have the capacity for this. Whatever size your organisation is, you need to set high standards for data use – even if it means using partners”.
Naturally, there’s huge demand for data governance across organisations as they ramp up efforts to consume, ingest and find insights from data. “The key is to make sure that when your people use data, it’s accurate – they don’t ask for it but they always note it when it happens!”
In the ever-growing list of the finance function’s responsibilities, one thing stands out. You need to understand where the data problems are. Anwar noted, “Everyone has an IT helpdesk, but nobody has a business helpdesk. This can help solve so many issues”. To make this a reality, structured data is vital: “If you don’t have data coming in in a structured manner, how will you know where your data challenges are?” Without this crucial information, the finance team will struggle to support the wider business with its goals.
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