Exploring the misconceptions surrounding data-driven transformation, with Sam Sibley, partner and alliance manager for UK & Ireland at Exasol
A core component of digital transformation is data transformation: transforming your organisation to be data-driven, to drive business value. The benefits of being data first are now clearly established: predictive maintenance, supply chain optimisation, the generation of new business models and the improvement of the enterprise’s customer-facing activities.
As with any technological transformation, success depends on both the technical (e.g. data sources/orchestration) and business foundations (e.g. cultural change). It’s a common misconception, however, that refining the technical foundations requires replacing existing legacy systems. Enterprises are all too unaware of what can be achieved with the technology they have.
Sam Sibley, partner & alliance manager for UK & Ireland at Exasol is on a mission to inform enterprises about the business value that can be achieved from their existing IT stack. As he explains, to become data-driven, the edge comes not necessarily from upgrading, but leveraging sophisticated analytics software to complement existing tech; optimising what you already have. Does this mean enterprises should hold onto all of their legacy tech?
“Of course, depending on the use case or business functions, there’ll be instances where you’ll want to gradually phase out some of the legacy systems as you develop your strategy,” Sam says.
“The true challenge of legacy systems lies in the complexity of maintaining them and in their lack of flexibility. So, in those areas where you need to be fast, agile and flexible, you will need to modernise but there’ll be other areas where your legacy system will still deliver what you need it to.
Utilising best-in-class analytics software does not only allow firms to leverage existing systems. It also translates to more efficient data access and analysis, competencies that themselves produce faster actionable insights which allow stakeholders to make more informed decisions and improves business agility.
“It is important to remember that data is a valuable asset so long as you can access and make use of it,” Sam says. “People often start with looking at what they want their business intelligence (BI) tool to help them achieve but they forget that BI insights can only be as good as the data fed into the BI tool. So, the initial focus should be on what data you have available and how/if you can access it.”
I ask Sam what the process of data-driven transformation looks like from a firm’s perspective. The first step he says involves assessing present and potential data supply. Not every solution scales the same, so ‘you want to make sure you invest in a technology that can grow with your business’.
It is imperative firms do not become data-impotent for any period of time. Shifting technologies is not only cumbersome and costly, but any time sat on an unexploited data stockpile is precious time for competitors steal an edge.