Jan. 3, 2023 | Podcast

Episode 9: Get More Out of Your Data in 2023

Doug Laney, Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and best-selling author

About the episode

Learn how to squeeze the most out of your data assets. We sit down with Doug Laney, Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and author of the best-selling books, Infonomics & Data Juice, to hear the advantages of monetizing your data and how to get started now.


Doug Laney

Innovation Fellow at West Monroe, best-selling author of Infonomics and Data Juice, and former Gartner analyst. Doug acts as an advisor on data and analytics strategy, helping clients build data fluency and derive value from data.


Currently you serve as an innovation fellow at West Monroe. What does that mean? What is that role like?

West Monroe has several innovation fellows. In my role specifically, I'm introducing new data-related strategic offerings, like data monetization, data valuation and data diligence. I’m also involved in market-facing activities, like speaking, publishing, and teaching. Then also keeping in the mix by participating on client engagements as a data and analytics strategist, doing things like helping clients conceive new ways of generating benefits from their data by implementing enterprise data and analytics operating models and advising data and analytics leaders and chief data officers. Basically, my focus across the board is on helping our clients really put their data to work better.

I want to kickstart our conversation today with something that we like to ask everyone on our podcast–what does digital mean to you?

This is one of those questions you can ask a dozen people and get at least a dozen answers. I'm kind of a simple Midwestern guy, so we'll keep it simple.

I think digital is the possibilities and innovation at the intersection of data, technology, and the human experience. When you look at any digital solution out there, it typically combines those three aspects. 


Data is the lifeblood of digitalization. Think about the evolution of vinyl to streaming music, or from brick and mortar shopping with cash to online shopping with credit. In each of these cases, data is what feeds the technology, which then improves the user experience.

Will data ever be considered an asset? Will that become a new balance sheet category?

That's the $30 trillion question, right? That would require a lot of restatement of balance sheets. Data clearly meets the criteria of an asset. I've written and spoken a lot about this. An asset is something that is owned and controlled, exchangeable for cash, and generates what accountants call probable future economic benefits. Clearly data meets those criteria, it's just that the accountants haven't come around to acknowledging it. They have published some discussion papers on the topic, but only under rare circumstances is data allowed on the balance sheet. This creates a situation with a lot of undue market volatility–and because there's no transparency into the data that organizations have or how they use it from an investment standpoint. 

How can companies create a team with the shared goal and vision of data monetization? 

The first step is really the hardest. It's something executives really want to do, but they don't know where to start. For example, we're advising a large manufacturer now in setting up its data monetization function. They've identified a few people to run it, but they really don't have a vision or an operating model. And in fact, the people who are running it don't have any experience with data products or any kind of product management. They certainly haven't yet generated a set of prioritized data products to design and develop, so we're helping them with that. Another company we're advising has several business units that they're clamoring to rock and roll with monetizing their data. 

Ultimately, I believe this should all be within the chief data officer's responsibility. If you're unfamiliar with the creation, implementation, and licensing of data products, then hire somebody to run the program. 

Where have some of the ideas from your books landed? How have companies received and taken advantage of them?

So many data and analytics executives and others have graciously reached out to me to say how Infonomics has changed their thinking on what data means and could mean to their organization. How it's helped them express the real value of data and the importance of data to business executives and boards and how they now even base their enterprise data strategy on these concepts. We just met with one major insurance company who told us their CDO even has branded the company's data management function as an Infonomics engine. So that really made me proud. From a market perspective, we've seen a groundswell of interest from businesses to monetize their data, integrate supplemental balance sheets that express the value of their data assets.

Jump ahead to these highlights:

2:00 - Doug’s background
4:10 - His role as innovation fellow at West Monroe
5:10 - What does digital mean to you?
7:00 - About Doug’s books, Infonomics and Data Juice
10:30 - Get ideas from adjacent industries
11:30 - Learnings from other companies
13:10 - Substituting data for inventory
14:37 - Commonalities in stories
15:30 - How do you think about data monetization?
18:40 - The benefits of data monetization programs
22:00 - Data as an asset
23:20 - How do you assess a client’s data acumen?
23:58 - Companies that get data monetization right
25:20 - Private equity target for data monetization
26:40 - Multiplier effect around making data more valuable
28:34 - How have the ideas in his books impact businesses

This is Digital

West Monroe's team of experts and guests pull back the curtain on how to build digital throughout an organization. Through real-world examples, you will learn how to spot digital transformation in real life, and how to make small decisions every day that make a big impact on growth.

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