Data has a multiplier effect, meaning that its value increases exponentially as more departments and people have access to it. Of course, the opposite is true: keeping information in silos or only utilizing it for specific functions reduces its effectiveness and can keep an organization from reaching its full potential.

Clearly, the first scenario is the more ideal of the two. And in order for a company to successfully increase the value of existing data, it’s important to follow three core principles. These principles serve as a foundational strategy for supporting a broader data-driven culture that can address current needs and also quickly be adapted for future challenges.

Ensure Privacy and Security

It’s critical to safeguard the privacy of customer data, partner data, and other sensitive information. Not only can exposure damage trust in these relationships, but it can also open up the organization to financial as well as regulatory repercussions. The first step in pursuing this principle is understanding what data the company possesses and why. As part of this, organizations must catalog their data sources, owners, and business imperatives.

Make Data Discoverable and Dynamic

In order for data to be applied to more than one outcome, it must be discoverable. It’s also important that data can be plugged into new scenarios and use cases without impeding its existing uses or compromising its privacy and security. The extent that businesses can achieve this dynamism is reflected by the speed and agility of their reactions.

To achieve this second principle, companies must create data dictionaries and meta-data describing the data and how it was created. It’s necessary to include any post-processing, cleaning, or transformation activities here that might affect the data’s resolution or accuracy.

Ensure Data is Available Where Needed

In our connected world, data is a critical at-hand tool almost anywhere you can think of—the manufacturing floor, a law enforcement vehicle, or a physician’s laptop, to name just a few. This means that data no longer exists in a single storage domain but rather across a multitude of devices and in many different environments. To become truly data-driven, companies must ensure that analytics are available wherever the business needs them. This entails understanding the protection requirements, the mean time to recovery needed for services depending on the data, and the implications stemming from having multiple copies of the data in play.

You can read more on the above core principles in this CIO article. Regardless of where your organization falls on the data-driven journey, it’s critical that the importance of a data literate culture does not go overlooked.