How Data holds the key to Digital Transformation
March 21, 2023
“This week, we’re looking at the of role high-quality data, and effective data governance strategies play in successful Digital Transformation initiatives. Digital Transformation is an ambiguous term that can look radically different between organizations and industries. However, any plan to explore new channels or drive enterprise growth will be more successful if accompanied by a ‘data-first’ mindset.”
Data Driven Strategy
I struggle with the phrase ‘Digital Transformation’ because it implies the existence of a practice with a definitive end stage rather than a continuous cycle of promoting agility and resilience, using technologies to take advantage of changing markets, and innovate ahead of the competition. If we want to adopt this forward-thinking view of Digital Transformation, one that prepares us not to just rise up and meet the next single turn or challenge in the digital economy but anticipate and embrace disruption as a whole, organisations must first look to the quality of their business- critical data. Designing informed, long term organisational strategy requires making decisions based on data and analytics that can only come from making investments in information management.
Global research firm Gartner predicts that by 2022, 90% of corporate strategy plans will classify information as a critical enterprise asset. The challenge, faced by many, is how to turn massive amounts of data (structured or unstructured) from a range of sources, into this kind of valuable business intelligence. There is not a business out there that does not have siloed data to some extent. Breaking down barriers between disparate systems to clean and centralise data can seem like a daunting task, and one that you may not feel the pressing need to address if your current systems are ‘doing just fine’.
Dangers of Dark Data
But as it often does, inaction will cost in the long run and the bill won’t be cheap. Too much ‘dark’ data (data that is acquired but exists in quantities too vast to be analyzed and offer insights) not only runs up storage costs, but risks violating security and compliance policies. Gartner estimates that ‘poor’ data costs large organizations an average of over $9.5 million USD per year. Without comprehensive, accurate data, strategists will struggle to effectively inform their organisational decisions- perhaps this is a significant contributing factor to why Forbes estimates that 7 out of every 8 ‘Digital Transformation programs’ fail? Meanwhile, the competition has synchronised technology with business processes and are reaping the dividends of initiatives in AI and Machine Learning.
I would argue that Digital Transformation is about embracing and being prepared for all types of change. Some change is felt more than others. Currently, we are facing an unprecedented crisis that will forever change how we work both locally and globally. Classic data management conundrums are exacerbated as teams work to maintain their daily routines in even more distributed environments. Security and good governance are critical as employees work from home, instead of the office. Other teams may be realising that they are struggling to provide all lines of business with the access to information that they need.
What does this mean for organisations?
Now more than ever, organisations who have harnessed data in a manner that readies them for innovation will see the benefits of this preparedness. Information assets are only as valuable as the structures and systems that are built around them, and a Digital Transformation strategy will be a telltale point of the strength of these assets. Whether you’re working to reduce lead times, release applications faster to connect new lines of business or to prospect and acquire new customers, these projects will stumble without clean, consistent and synchronized enterprise data.