The power of data for driving transformational change

The power of data for driving transformational change

Data is an asset to any organisation and business leaders should embrace the use of data to create real, actionable change. Mike Capone, CEO of Qlik, discusses what it means to be truly data-driven and also how organisations are using data to make impactful business decisions.

Mike Capone is the CEO of Qlik, a private cloud data and analytics company serving over 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries. Qlik offers a platform delivering end-to-end, real-time data integration and analytics cloud solutions to close the gaps between data, insights and action. Capone joined Qlik in 2018 and led a robust effort to transform the company to help it stand out in a white-hot, crowded BI market. The key to this effort has been to leverage the cloud to bring together state-of-the-art data integration capabilities to unlock data from operational systems, with cutting-edge analytics that leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and application automation. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimise customer relationships.

Can you help explain what it means to be truly data-driven?

At their core, data-driven organisations empower workers at all levels to ask the right questions about information and machines. This allows them to build knowledge, make decisions and communicate meaning to others, all through data. Data-driven businesses are more likely to produce data-literate employees (and vice versa) who contribute more to their roles and help businesses refine their competitive edge in this highly demanding global economy.

When data drives decisions, enterprises can act confidently, which is crucial in a world where certainty can be harder to achieve. Instead of instinct or gut feeling, data allows businesses to navigate challenges, identify the waves of change more quickly and pivot to new opportunities.

How are businesses using data to make decisions?

Uncertainty has become a part of our lives and this will likely continue as the norm rather than the exception. Data is key in helping organisations of all sizes make confident decisions that drive certainty across their operations. The real-time, integrated nature of these insights is at the core of their value. Data-driven decisions also empower businesses to create actual and meaningful change. Whether providing retailers with the supply chain visibility they need to keep stock flowing or helping health systems uncover variations in care so they can treat patients more successfully, data makes all the difference.

For example, Qlik is deeply involved in healthcare, working closely with many healthcare organisations to achieve meaningful impact – one such organisation in the UK is Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL). We have worked with WWL to put data at the heart of primary care and operational decision-making, equipping staff with real-time insights to make more informed decisions, transforming the patient experience and improving outcomes. We’ve also helped enable the Trust to share its data with other health and care organisations to take a joined-up and informed approach at every touchpoint in a patient’s care pathway.

Another key area where data plays a leading role is as a form of aid. Currently, we’re working with organisations like Direct Relief to centralise data to help the universe of NGOs pinpoint refugee support needs and then activate them directly to aid in the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. These are just a few examples of the power of data to create real, actionable change.

What challenges are organisations faced with when looking to become data-driven and how best do they solve them?

Most data silos are created due to outdated thinking about the stability and security of the cloud. Forward-thinking organisations were already moving to the cloud before the pandemic, a key driver of enabling data decision-making at all levels of their operations. The cloud makes it easier to access and analyse data in real time and scales to meet evolving needs and challenges when unexpected events arise. 

The other area is data literacy. Our latest research highlights the critical importance of data literacy. The research highlighted that C-level executives globally would offer a salary increase for candidates that could demonstrate their data literacy. However, just 11% of employees feel fully confident in their data literacy skills. While some businesses may possess the necessary data to take decisive, meaningful action, often their team members lack the skills to understand what the data means and how they can benefit from those insights. This is a critical disparity that holds both employees and employers back from achieving their full potential.

As you break down data silos and make more data available to employees, businesses should assess where those employees are in their data literacy journey and put a plan in place to help employees fill their skills gaps. The most important thing to remember is that the plan needs to be tailored to the employees’ specific needs and leaders should assess their staff’s abilities and proceed from there.

Which companies can benefit most from tools that empower data collection?

The simple answer is every single one. There is not an organisation in the world, public or private, for-profit or non-profit, that can’t benefit from getting more value from data and solutions that enable the wider use of data. Sometimes, unlocking data can lead to unexpected and even more valuable impacts.

An example is a real-time data dashboard we recently delivered to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Data was displayed live on screens during the event, allowing leaders and their teams to see the status of commitments from their allies and other countries. This created a groundswell of social capital that impacted commitments related to an entire range of issues, including deforestation, methane emissions and zero-emission vehicles, largely driven and enabled by the real-time nature of the data presented there.

What would you suggest is required to change a work culture to make it more data-driven?

Data-driven work cultures are achieved from the top down. The C-suite can’t simply preach it or invest in solutions, they have to live it by embracing and showcasing the measurable benefits of data-driven decision-making to the larger organisation and its goals. A big sign of commitment to building a data-driven work culture is bringing on a Chief Data Officer to drive an organisation-wide data and analytics strategy across the business. These steps, breaking down data silos and investing in data literacy training at all levels, will help transform the culture over time from one that relies on historical excel docs, outdated insights and gut instinct to a truly data-driven organisation.

What have you learned on your journey to CEO through your other C-suite roles like CIO?

In my early management days, I was fortunate to work with a team of helpful and patient individuals; they allowed me to get my feet on the ground as a manager, which was pivotal in my later development.

My experience crystallised early on that humility is essential to being a good leader. I was fortunate to have great role models and leaders who helped me learn and grow and ultimately shaped my path. I have always been willing to ask for help and never be afraid to volunteer for the difficult jobs nobody else wants to take on.

Looking back on my career thus far, I often think of the words of JPMorgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, one of the all-time great leaders. He said that there’s no substitute for hard work, and I agree with that 100%. There may be some worlds in which things are just handed to you, but more often than not, the people who work hard get rewarded.

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