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Digital Transformation: The Role of Data Analytics

Insights Dec 8, 2022

The Role of Data Analytics

Digital transformation is a word that’s been bounced around a lot over the past decade.  

As technology rapidly changes the way we do business, digital transformation has quickly become a corporate imperative. Seventy percent of companies today either have a digital transformation strategy or are currently working on one. 

Data is a key pillar for digital transformation because every interaction in the digital world generates data. One of the most critical aspects of transformation is understanding how your organisation leverages data. As more organisations embark on their transformation journey, it’s increasingly important to understand how data analytics plays a role from start to finish.  

A Data-Driven Approach to Transformation

We live in a hyperconnected world where every digital interaction contributes to exponentially growing datastores. Data consumption and usage have changed significantly over the years, helping shape new business models and driving a more customer-centric approach to transformation. 

A company’s ability to compete and thrive in this new digital world will be determined by its ability to make quick, informed data-driven decisions. Yet, businesses make fewer than 50 percent of their decisions based on quantitative information instead of gut feeling, experience, or opinion.  

Business leaders today need to cultivate a data-driven culture within their organisations instead of relying on intuition. Armed with data, organisations can gain a better understanding of who their customers are and how they behave, as well as identify trends, influence change, and make necessary improvements that drive efficiencies and reduce costs. Gartner predicts that 90 percent of corporate strategies will reference data as a critical business asset and analytics as a critical competency. 

Overcoming Common Challenges in Data Management 

One of the most critical aspects of digital transformation is understanding how your organisation leverages data. The unfortunate reality is that at most companies, data is not treated like a valuable asset. 

Decision makers need instant access to trusted data sources but in reality spend most of their time finding data, checking its quality and ultimately are left frustrated. Knowing the type of data your company is capturing across the entire organisation, and the accuracy and its provenance are critical. “This is a challenge that is even more prevalent and impactful now,” said Jon Last, Head of UK Delivery at NashTech. “When I started in the industry 20 years ago, if you didn’t know your data, whether you digitised it or not, you got into a mess quite quickly,” added Last. 

Here are some data obstacles to overcome as you embark on your data transformation journey: 

  • Data silos: When data is siloed and segmented across different business units, tools, and platforms, it can add to the difficulty organisations face in integrating the data and optimising the value of that data. Eighty-nine percent of IT leaders today view data silos as one of the biggest obstacles to digital transformation. Appropriate access to data should not be blocked or withheld, it must be allowed to flow freely throughout the organisation. 
  • Data quality: High-quality data can help a business meet its objectives. But if the proper steps aren’t taken to ensure the quality of the data, then it can lead to costly mistakes and missed opportunities. An Experian survey found that 68 percent of businesses experience the impact of poor data quality on their data and transformation initiatives. For most organisations, the problem with data only comes to light when digital transformation initiatives are halted because data quality has not been addressed.  
  • Legacy systems:  Legacy systems and applications frequently present a major roadblock to digital transformation. These older systems, often built decades ago, are obsolete in terms of their ability to power modern digital interactions and improve user experiences. Legacy systems are often costly to maintain and update, and in some cases impossible to integrate with more modern elements of your organisation. It’s essential to understand the limitations in terms of data access for any legacy systems you are working with. Data may not be accessible in a timely manner, or it may be supplied in batches rather than accessible at any time. 

Why a Data Strategy is Needed to Support Digital Transformation

Too often, digital transformations fall short of their objectives and the reasons can be varied and complex. Having a solid understanding of how your organisation leverages data will enable you to optimise your data usage and apply analytics and insights to drive better business outcomes. 

Starting with a data strategy roadmap can help you drive the program forward and realise your investment, now and in the future. To build a data strategy roadmap, you’ll need: 

  • A defined data strategy: If you don’t have a data strategy in place, your organisation will struggle to leverage data in support of its transformation efforts. “If you haven’t got control of your data in the first place, you run the risk of your digital transformation failing,” added Last. Without a strategy, it’s difficult to know where your data is coming from, the type of data you have, and what you can do with it. A data strategy goes beyond the data. A well-defined strategy outlines the people, processes, and technologies your organisation needs to leverage data and achieve business goals. 
  • Data management plan: Once you have a strategy in place, you need to define how you will manage your data. “If you haven't gotten a handle on what you’ve got, then you lose the ability to have nice, user-friendly workflows that allow you to do something useful with that data. You end up just putting lipstick on a pig,” said Last. An effective data management plan will support your digital transformation and allow you to define how to manage, secure, and use your data throughout its complete lifecycle and access meaningful data to propel business objectives forward.  
  • Change management: For digital transformation initiatives to be successful, they require a culture transformation too. Data needs to be a part of your organisation’s overall strategy, and that means creating a culture that promotes and embraces it. A truly data-driven culture invests in the right talent, improves data literacy across the organisation, and provides the tools and frameworks needed to enable the culture to thrive. Have a plan in place to effectively communicate your data strategy, get buy-in early and often, and make sure to team members on why data is important. 

Data is not just where you start your digital transformation journey, it's the thread that carries your company throughout the journey. A willingness to adopt digital technologies will not help your business advance unless it’s underpinned by a data-centric strategy and robust governance. While no digital transformation is perfect. Good data management and governance can increase the likelihood of yielding positive results for your business.  

Making the move into the digital world can be a significant change for any organisation. Learn more about our approach to data management or arrange a call to discuss how we can help support your data transformation. 

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