Book Review: ‘Data Leverage’

Company data such as customer lists, transaction records, location data, social media and customer behavior patterns often prove to be valuable assets. But for many companies, data is little more than an after-thought.

What are the best practices for identifying, valuing, leveraging and protecting data assets? That’s the subject of “Data Leverage: Unlocking the Surprising Growth Potential of Data Partnerships,” an eye-opening and highly readable new primer by former Yext CDO Christian Ward and his lawyer brother, James Ward.

The Brothers Ward take their readers through the subject A-Z, with an eye towards helping managers understand what a company has in terms of data; how to work with it, especially in the age of the EU’s GPDR regulations; how to leverage it as a marketing aid; and how to add new revenue streams.

The Wards are especially keen on data partnership models, a “1+1 = 3” approach that have helped such local leaders as diverse as Google, Apple, Yelp, Airbnb, Zillow, The Weather Co. and BankRate get ahead of the pack by incorporating relevant databases into their product, and also having their data highlighted by others. “Data partnerships are now at the center of the most successful business strategies,” note the Wards.

To help companies strategize for partnering up, the Wards have adopted a “Data Smart” framework. This helps readers work through how their data can be used; how much it is worth; how its usage can be maximized (by pushing for promotional support etc.); and how it can be protected.

As a consultant and strategist, I have often preached the value of data, content and reselling partnerships to my clients. For me, this book adds a lot of meat and context to the issues involved, and goes into the “must read” category of business books.