Digital transformation: 5 ways to make the most of all that data you have

Digital transformation: 5 ways to make the most of all that data you have

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Most technology projects inevitably involve the innovative use of data, whether through analytics, IoT, artificial intelligence or machine learning. In fact, most digital transformation projects are more about data-driven change than anything else. So how can professionals create data-driven strategies that make the most of the information collected by their organizations?

1. Build the right foundations

Brandon Hootman, director of digital data at Caterpillar, believes there has been a turning point in data mining over the past two years. While data management – ​​the process that transforms raw data into more easily usable formats – is still important, some leaders are focusing more on business needs to accelerate experimentation.

“I think the companies you’re going to see that are really succeeding in this space have taken a more mature approach to managing and building data capabilities. So when it’s time to do that experimentation, you bring the ‘enterprise to data to transmit the data to the enterprise,’ he said.

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At Caterpillar, Hootman has built an analytics foundation—using data pipelines, management functions, and Snowflake’s data lake technology—that enables his company to use consolidated information sources to support new business use cases. He advises other digital leaders to take a similar approach, but acknowledges that it’s not always straightforward.

“It’s a change – and unfortunately there’s no easy button,” he says. “I feel very lucky that we’ve made the investment that we need to be able to do this job and I think we’re doing it in a way that means we’re starting to see the benefits of it.”

2. Understand where better data can make a difference

Access to the right data is important across the enterprise, from customer sentiment analysis to security. Prabhath Karanth, director of security compliance and assurance at travel management firm TripActions, encourages everyone to view security from the perspective of data that can be shared with management.

“If you set up your environment to build your security practices and programs above the data layer, it becomes much easier to scale it and produce the metrics your management expects,” he says. . .

“It also becomes much easier to provide your senior management with in-depth, data-driven insights to drive additional security investments for your program.”

Karanth also encourages professionals to carefully consider technology solutions and vendor partners that will help them think about security in a data-driven way.

“This movement is here to stay,” he says. “Teams and programs that embrace a data-driven mindset for security and compliance are going to be hugely successful.”

3. Give business users control

Salim Syed, vice president of slingshot engineering at Capital One Software, says companies need to focus on democratizing data expertise and giving more control to line of business users. The faster the business can do, the more likely it is to succeed.

Also: What is digital transformation? Everything you need to know about how technology is changing business

“Data needs to be democratized – data engineering needs to be democratized,” he says. “What businesses want is access to the information they need, the models they want to run, and to scale at the speed demanded by modern work.”

Syed says organizations that are stuck on backend engineering and integration waste a lot of time. Instead, build a platform that works, put the right policies and processes in place, and then give business users the ability to experiment with the data.

“Treat data like a commodity, have an owner, and manage everything efficiently,” he says. “Something I’m saying is, ‘central policy, central tools, federated ownership’ – that’s the model. Think risk, put the guardrails in place, then innovate.”

4. Be prepared to change systems

Daniel Smith, head of analytics at fashion house PANGAIA, says it’s crucial that professionals looking to get the most out of data have the right source systems in place. It is then much easier to think about how to use the knowledge for decision-making processes.

“You have to have a ‘fail fast, learn and iterate’ culture. You’ll never build the perfect solution, the first version. You have to iterate, and even when you think you’ve got it right, the big changes you’ll have to do are constantly changing,” he says.

Smith is working with Board International to transform the sales reporting process, consolidate multiple data sources, and improve the company’s analytical capabilities.

The key message, Smith says, is that any attempt to get the most out of data is a constant work in progress: “I wouldn’t say we’ve ever had a dashboard that hasn’t been changed. The longest that a dashboard left without being polished has probably been two months.”

5. Aim to build an information ecosystem

Milena Nikolic, CTO at Trainline, says professionals shouldn’t just limit their data-driven transformations to inside knowledge. His company uses data — some of it collected internally and some it draws from across the industry — to power features that improve the experience of its customers.

“We use data a lot to make decisions – it’s very important,” she says. “Certainly the data we acquire about how users use our products, which we obviously acquire in a consented and privacy-conscious way. We use that a lot internally to make sure we’re counting and measuring the right things, we we define the right objectives, we set the right level of ambition and we detect when things go wrong.”

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She says Trainline’s long-term approach is to create application programming interfaces with external parties. The objective is to create benefits for the company, its customers and other organizations in the sector.

“Rail is an ecosystem, and we understand that we are part of the ecosystem and that the only way for us to be successful is to work with the rest of the ecosystem, i.e. the operating companies rail as well as everyone else. So it’s all about partnerships. It’s all about doing what it takes to attract more and more customers to rail.

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