Making Sense of Digital Transformation - RegInsights

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Conversations about digital transformation have found their way into most business decision-making forums. For some, it is a funky buzzword, and for others, it is a hotbed of confusion. Let us try to make sense of digital transformation and how we can implement it in our workplaces.

As a starting point, digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into every aspect of a business. It profoundly changes how you operate and how value is delivered to customers. In addition, and this is the hard part, it requires a cultural change that allows organisations to continually challenge the old ways of doing things, experiment with digital technology in all its forms, and build a sense of comfort within the new ecosystem.

Digital transformation is not only essential for large corporations but is rapidly becoming part of the way of life for smaller organisations, particularly but not exclusively for knowledge-work organisations.

Most organisations harvest vast amounts of data. It may relate to logistics, inventory management, customer information, financial information, historical data, as well as general economic performance information.

Even with an Enterprise Resource Planning System, this information lives in pockets and silos. And even if you were able to place all the data side by side, it would just be data, data and more data and you would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume.

AI and Machine Learning

What you need is a way to find the trends and patterns, to ‘sit on top of the data’ and use it to gain intelligence and insights that are far greater than the arithmetic summing of data. This is powerfully mind-stretching. This completely and utterly changes the competition game. And this is the promise of digital transformation.

Time and again we read in the business media that organisations across industries must leverage their data to remain competitive. But the transition to companywide, fact-based, data-driven strategies is not easy. Often the sincerest efforts fail because they are foiled by dumbfounding complexity, colossal time overruns, insufficient resources, and changing workplace priorities.

Successful digital transformation means a new work culture that must integrate people, processes, and technology. It requires a culture that enables teams across the organisation to make strategic and tactical data-driven decisions more easily, regardless of their place in the data hierarchy. It is a way of working that takes data to the decision maker, identifies and organises data assets, increases data literacy, removes obstructive data silos, and employs technology to support more effective analysis.

The data panorama

The volume of data grows at mind boggling, exponential rates. New data analytics tools are needed to make sense of all of this. Without appropriate tools, systems and different work practices, the value locked in this morass of data is lost.

Inc Magazine reports that up to 73 percent of company data goes unutilised for analytics purposes. Your organisation should be able to track and manage data right across the data lifecycle, as shown below.

Your data is likely to be stored in a variety of ways and varying combinations. The cloud is a ubiquitous hold-all term, but it has different dimensions.

A hybrid cloud is one in which applications are running in a combination of different environments. Hybrid cloud computing approaches are widespread because almost no one today relies entirely on the public cloud.

A public cloud is a cloud service managed by a third party and makes resources and services available to remote users.

A multi-cloud solution is the use of cloud services from more than one cloud vendor. An on-premise solution means that a company keeps all its data, servers, and everything in its IT environment in-house. The company is responsible for running, supporting, and maintaining the data all the time. Your own environment is likely to be a combination of these options.

Toward a data-driven culture

Expressed most simply, a data-driven organisational culture means that most, if not all, employees use data and analytics to make decisions, measure impact and do their jobs effectively.

By making better-informed decisions with data, companies can grow revenue quickly and efficiently. This means that everyone in the organisation should have access to the data. This means that the retrieval, manipulation, and storage of data must be in a straightforward and easy-to-understand format so that employees at every level can use it to inform their decisions.

There are several characteristics of a data-driven culture

Data is a strategic asset. From creation to destruction and every stage in between, data is used to gain a competitive advantage.

Data is readily available. Data is democratised, and information is made available regardless of the rank and seniority of the average user.

The use of data is assertively supported by the top leadership. This is supported by a well-developed enterprise data strategy that is understood and embraced by the entire organisation.

Here are a few questions:

  • How many teams in your organisation still use individual Excel spreadsheets for managing, recording, and reporting important information?
  • Is this information current? Is the version control accurate?
  • Can anybody change the data? Are meeting minutes lost in email history files?
  • Is institutional knowledge located primarily in the heads of employees?

All these business threats disappear when you embrace digital transformation.

Where to begin?

Where do you start with implementing a culture of digital transformation? It is never too late to begin the process of transforming your organisation. Start with three practical steps:

Find internal supporters
Find out who is passionate about using data and analytics to drive more meaningfulness. Listen to them. Get their ideas about what a data-driven culture will look like at your company. Build a strong internal network because these are the folk who will carry you forward.

Follow the data

This sounds simple and obvious, but many organisations do not understand the whirlpools and eddies of data flows inside the organisation. What are the core datasets? How does data circulate? Map out the flows. This is a powerful entry point for finding the areas of greatest impact.

Build the right platform

To have a digital transformation, you must have data that is accurate and accessible.
With a data management and analytics platform, organisations can effectively manage and secure the data lifecycle, seamlessly connecting your on-premises environments to clouds to make data manageable, governable, and readily available.

Data is one of the most underutilised aspects of business assets today, and that phenomenon is changing rapidly. Digital transformation puts technology at the core of your business strategy. This approach will reduce operating expenses and enhance efficiency. It could even change the course of your business. With a unified approach to data management across the business and the underpinning technology, it’s easier to achieve those daunting strategic goals.


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