Henry Adams, Country Manager for South Africa at InterSystems, tells us that effective access to data is key to ensuring Digital Transformation projects can deliver rapid and sustainable business returns.
Improving the customer experience has become a driver behind Digital Transformation (DX) projects and a foundation built on data management is fundamental for any digitally-led initiative to be successful.
Gartner research shows that by 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency. As has been the case with many digital shifts in business, whether it is cloud migration, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and others.
Decision-makers should not be tempted by the potential of the technology but rather focus on the business relevance they bring. Therefore, being able to make more effective decisions faster becomes the competitive advantage and not the solution itself.
Gartner goes on to state that data and analytics will become the centrepiece of enterprise strategy, focus and investment. While the rapid evolution of technology requires organisations to apply continuous effort to ensure it remains relevant to their needs.
The technology is important. It is not just the means to an end. This is because integrating new technologies and solutions can fundamentally alter how a business operates. Organisations can use DX to make agile and profound organisational change.
All this is underpinned by the role data management plays in delivering on a DX environment. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), 76% of enterprises are at a digital deadlock. They are unable to reach the stage in which they have broken from past practices and are transformed to align with new market needs.
While insufficient management buy-in and resistance to change contribute to this impasse, a lack of preparedness means many DX projects are destined to fail even before they begin.
Therefore, a DX strategy requires an intelligent core that identifies, collects, transforms and normalises data across the company. Having such a data-centric approach means the business can plan more effectively, integrate its current and proposed technologies into a single platform, budget better and ultimately, embed DX throughout the organisation.
This becomes the vital enabler needed to help decision-makers develop plans quickly and connect previous disparate components in more effective, digitally-focused ways. In doing so, a company can create a bulletproof foundation for business growth and future innovation.
To do this, decision-makers must overcome what has traditionally been an extraordinarily siloed data environment. As businesses across industry sectors have grown with decades worth of aggregated technologies, solutions have developed to address specific line of business requirements that has resulted in islands of data.
These are separated by diverse formats, different data points and the like. Depending on the complexity of the environment, manual integration of data can become a time-consuming, expensive and error-prone process.
Security also needs to be at the front and centre of all DX initiatives – where there is data there are threats and organisations can’t walk into any data-driven exercise, particularly one that is centred on customer experience, without factoring in security.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the banking and healthcare sectors. IDC research shows that 61% of banks worldwide are digitally deadlocked and unable to go beyond the stage where digital initiatives are repeatable and well managed. Given the complexities of their data environments, this should hardly come as a surprise.
Conversely, healthcare doesn’t just deal with data, it primarily deals with humans. According to Forbes, the success of ‘healthcare lies in a company’s ability to make customers’ lives better’ which paves the way for Digital Transformation for good. Something that can only be achieved through the accurate understanding of data.
Fortunately, an open data architecture can assist in bringing together siloed applications and data repositories. This transition requires a willingness to change and wanting to adapt existing systems and processes to ones that contribute to DX. For companies to change, they must identify key enterprise data as well as where it resides, how it is currently managed and formatted, and how it can be leveraged for maximum business benefit.
Additionally, a list of requirements must be developed that includes both application development and data management technologies. There is no getting around how critical effective access to data has become in making any DX initiative one that can deliver rapid and sustainable business returns.