Are you getting real value from your data?

Organizations are looking to invest significantly in data assets to give themselves a competitive edge and better understand their customers. But it isn’t as simple as throwing cash at technology. To harness data and harvest real business value, it is imperative that there is a well thought out strategy in place, or results will be very disappointing.

Werner De Laet, Chief Enterprise, Wholesale and Innovation Officer of Orange Belgium, told a recent conference that our world is rapidly digitizing, bringing with it opportunities for enterprises to get ahead of the competition. At the same time, it is increasing client expectations in areas such as personalization.

To turn the data explosion into a valuable business asset, enterprises need to put processes in place to deal with all stages of the data journey, from collection and exploration through to analysis. “Enterprises have the information; they need to know how it arrives and how it can be shared,” he said.

Getting smarter with data

Data is now a precious asset when it comes to bolstering the bottom line. According to a new report by McKinsey, fast-growing companies spend more on intangible assets, such as data, innovation, brand and talent, than slower-growing ones. It found that top-growing organizations are 1.3 times more likely than slow growers to have proprietary data and 1.8 times more likely to run analytics decisions in real time.

However, purely investing in intangible data cannot drive growth alone. “Companies need to think how those intangibles are deployed and implemented to build capabilities and create a competitive advantage ultimately,” notes McKinsey.

Based on these findings, it may surprise you that despite growing amounts of data, less than 1% is being used at all – and even less for analysis and intelligent decision making, according to independent think tank Bernard Marr & Co.

Clever with data

At IDC’s European and Data Intelligence Summit earlier this year, one of the key themes that emerged was the need for organizations to substantially increase the value they are getting from their data assets. Challenges cited include siloed data, migrating to new platforms, and creating a data-driven culture.

Phillip Carnelley, Associate Vice President at IDC, summed up his findings from the Summit succinctly: “The ‘Build It, and They Will Come’ is not a strategy for a data value. A culture-first approach targeting the whole organization is necessary for getting the best out of your data assets.”

Werner de Laet agrees: “Business seems to be slow in adapting to new technologies that can maximize data value and minimize effort,” he says. In Belgium, only half of companies have started their digital transformation, despite the pressure of the pandemic, he warned.

Think in data

We continually hear about the digital future and the unlimited potential to create business value through data-driven organizations. Google, for example, has confirmed there are three billion active Google devices in use, from connected cars to TVs.

Also speaking at the conference, Thierry Geerts, CEO of Google Belgium, said enterprises must accept “tomorrow will be a datacentric society.” He points out that enterprises must see that knowledge is the value they get from data. But, according to research by Gartner, it is still challenging for many organizations to “think in data.”

According to Gartner, transitioning to data-driven business requires data and analytics leaders, including chief data officers (CDOs), CEOs and CIOs to develop data and analytics strategies. They need to build a new vision of problem solving which can actively change management structures, such as centralized functions. This includes data management, analytics and information asset management.

Gartner predicts that the data landscape will become more complex with fast-increasing demand for cloud capabilities, connected data architectures, metadata, and automating routine and non-routine tasks using artificial intelligence (AI). By 2023, for example, the analyst firm believes that 25% of organizations will embrace a data and analytics solution from a single cloud provider for reduced overall costs.

To achieve success from data, Werner de Laet says that enterprises will have to re-invent their business. This includes a backbone by way of secure connectivity and cloud computing.

The road to a data-driven company

Every organization is looking to make better use of its data to exploit the digital economy. In recent research from IDC, 83% of CEOs said they wanted their organizations to be more data driven, but only 25% came out as data leading.

According to IDC, the organizations that succeed in being more data driven in their decision making are the ones that commit investment to make it happen. These include the people, processes and technology required to deploy data and analytics at scale.

To put these processes in place, de Laet maintains that enterprises need a new strategic framework if they are to capitalize on their data. This data journey includes all aspects of business data from data collection to putting the data to work. Enterprises need to look at the business cases for their data. How can its value improve the top line by driving revenue, and how can it improve the bottom line by making processes smarter and improving the customer experience?

It isn’t just about deploying technology; it is about making cultural changes. This includes actively identifying the gaps in an organization’s data culture and addressing them. For example, search out siloed departments that can’t exploit data because of lack of sharing and collaboration capabilities.

The future of your data is now

To get the most from data, it is about “doing it right,” says de Laet. This doesn’t happen overnight and requires a carefully thought out data strategy. But making the first incremental steps towards a data-driven organization today will accelerate digital transformation and pave the way for trusted data and analytics going forward.

Data is playing a massive role in the digital economy. Organizations need a new strategic framework if they are to harvest real value from their data. Find out how Orange Business Services can help you through the data journey.

Jan Howells

Jan has been writing about technology for over 22 years for magazines and web sites, including ComputerActive, IQ magazine and Signum. She has been a business correspondent on ComputerWorld in Sydney and covered the channel for Ziff-Davis in New York.