Data – the fuel of digital transformation
July 7, 2023

An aligned data strategy is key to maximising the potential of digital transformation, but it often overlooked in the rush to adopt the latest technology.

We are travelling through a period of unprecedented change, often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by digital technology. The rush to invest and adopt new technology is understandable but organisations need to approach the issue holistically. The game changers of IoT and AI are tremendously exciting and offer huge opportunities for the future but they depend on reliable connectivity and robust data. Collecting data may not be the problem – the sheer amount of data organisations hold is often a problem in itself – it only adds real value when is useable and actionable.

If we consider our transportation need when we need to go to the local shop for a pint of milk or loaf of bread and the shop is outside walking distance:

1.     We need transport and

2.    We need to provide some sort of fuel so that transport can take us there.

Some may consider a Rolls Royce as the ultimate in automotive luxury but we could do the same job with a Mini and keeping the automotive theme – a used Mini would suffice.  We can then go and get those essentials. Not quite – having obtained our transport, we then need to fill the car with fuel.  We can then get to the shop, buy our goods, and return home. In this scenario we have also forgotten a couple of other things:

1.     We need to have learnt to drive proficiently and

2.    There are other people (competitors) doing the same thing and there’s only limited ‘goods’ available (customers). 

Technology + Quality data + Actionable insight drives transformation

Technology can enable transformation and change across many areas including better customer experience, operational efficiencies, innovation, sales & marketing effectiveness, advanced financial management, all of these will not come from your technology but from the actionable insights from prescriptive analytics undertaken on your data – this is your organisations fuel.

Digital investments will have questionable value unless they are fuelled with data.  That data cannot sit within multiple silos, it needs consistent formatting and must be of the highest quality.  Think of poor data as dirty fuel! This means organisations need to have the right capabilities in terms of skills, knowledge and experience in place and directed by a clear strategy of what and how the data will help them to navigate the challenges and exploit the opportunities.

Technology product companies helping with transformational change or digitisation want organisations to buy that Rolls Royce or the Mini which is great for our transportation needs – but without the quality of data to fuel them there’s a very high likelihood that organisations will not fully exploit the opportunities change and transformation present.

Culture – the ‘oil’ that lubricates in the system

Like any strategy – a data strategy needs to be founded on sound analysis of the status quo, and audit of the current data sources held, and an evaluation of the capabilities to address this issue. Culture plays a big role too – how data is valued, used and managed, how it is woven into the language and currency of the organisation so that it’s not seen as someone else’s problem. This is a cross-functional issue and leadership needs to demonstrate their engagement in the strategy. 

We see digital transformation strategies stall as they encounter problems with data quality and data gathering – however, this is something that needs to be addressed upfront and integrated into the overall plan.

Here are 3 things to consider when plotting your data strategy:

1.     Ensure it aligns with the organisation’s business strategy, objectives & challenges.

2.    Carefully assess the resources required to deliver the insights and analysis you need and,

3.    Remember, it’s not a one-time exercise as part of your transformation or change programme, it’s a continuous process. Your data is probably your biggest asset so treat it as one.

If you’ve successfully navigated the technology transformation, how will you assess the value of your investment and how can it be used to really improve your organisations performance?  We will return to this in our next blog, ‘The one-percent improvement.’

Shaun Janes

Associate Consultant | Data & Analytics

SaturnFive® Consulting

July 2023