For digital transformation to succeed long-term, businesses must cultivate a data instinct throughout their workforce, writes Toby Isaacson, performance analytics practice lead at DXC ServiceNow Practice
In today’s enterprises, digital transformation is not just an aim or target, but rather a process that has already begun. As part of the transformation journey, many will have created ‘digital’ assets, the building blocks that serve as the core and foundation of a modern digital enterprise.
Despite this solid foundation, the path many organisations are following is not predetermined. The importance of AI, robotics and automation is known to many, but successfully implementing these technologies – without worrying staff who might think they could be replaced by them – could appear an impossible task.
Technology is not an adversary to the modern workforce
The truth is that businesses need to see these technologies not as threats, but rather understand that they will enable employees to be more successful within the organisation. This is why businesses must work towards fostering a culture that embraces these technologies and creates a data instinct among all staff so as to ensure long-term success for both digital transformation efforts and the business as a whole.
Data instinct might sound complex, but at its heart it describes an almost impulsive or involuntary pattern of behaviour to check experience with data and information. What organisations need is for any assumptions to be verified and not left as theories or rumours. The outcome is that statements that are too vague or lack foundation are not able to survive in this climate.
Almost everything that currently makes up an organisation is at risk of deconstruction as people encouraged to develop data instinct will question everything, rebuilding with something better and more substantial. The ultimate aim is to strip anything back that does not serve the goals of the digital enterprise.
To keep up, there is a reliance on historical practices, because they worked. The effort undertaken in comparison to the output ends up being a result that looks quite underwhelming. KPIs that are meant to demonstrate success fail to do so. All the competition is putting out such similar performance reports and financial results that they all look the same; thus progress – or rather the lack of it – is hidden.
Instead, businesses need to develop a culture that recognises uniqueness. If it’s unique, then why bother comparing. All of sales is based on calling out differentiators, not similarities. This means the best way to measure and grow an organisation is with bespoke metrics that assist with achieving the business goals.
This can only be achieved with a practice of things like embedded analytics and data transparency at all levels. The entire culture becomes dependent on the data the organisation has at its disposal and it becomes the focus of all collaboration. It is no longer one analyst looking at heaps of data in various silos, but a whole team investigating data to reach a common consensus on the best way to progress.
This new approach will allow flexible responses to ongoing events. In a traditional or analogue enterprise, the lack of autonomy means that reaching decisions quickly is slowed down by the company structure. If, however, every member is responsible for achieving business goals, problems and opportunities are shared to achieve them faster. No-one is blamed. Equally, no-one tries to run ahead on their own. This lack of isolation makes the entire operation both sustainable and scalable.
Data as a force for good
The business culture will then naturally shift away from punishment to encouragement. Employees will find their place and naturally function at a higher level because they are in the right environment. Data, shared with the whole enterprise, will be used to reward rather than reprimand.
This, in turn, will drive change in how employees view data. If the data is good, everyone benefits. While data and data quality are poor, opportunities are missed, and goals get dropped. Essentially the organisation will have created true data instinct by enhancing the culture throughout the business.
- In the second part of this series, Toby looks at what it will take to enable modern enterprises to be driven by data instinct, and what the key areas are that organisations need to be investing in.
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