Real-time insights separate the digitally advanced from everyone else

No matter what you want to achieve in today’s marketplaces, no matter what industry you’re operating in, the basic fact is that you need a digital focus. Whether delivering exceptional new customer experiences, operating sustainably, or navigating ongoing uncertainty, digital tools, approaches, and operations are helping businesses achieve their ambitions.

According to new research from The Economist and Orange Business, most firms (99%) already leverage new digital business models. They aren’t just piloting new approaches or concepts either. Eighty percent of respondents said that some form of digital transformation contributes over half of their profits today.

Simply being digital is not enough

Digital has become the default position. That means businesses need to become digitally advanced to stand out. If they manage that, they will reap significant rewards: research from Accenture found that digital leader revenues are growing an average of five times faster than other businesses. Pre-pandemic, it was just twice as fast.

Put another way: the gap between the digitally advanced and everyone else is growing. But what makes those leaders so advanced, and conversely, what holds the laggards back?

In a word, data. More specifically, being able to act based on real-time data insights.

The three obstacles to real-time data insights

The main barrier to successful digital adoption is no longer getting people to see the value of transformation; just 10% of our survey respondents still had an issue with leadership buy-in. Instead, the actual challenges are cybersecurity, data interoperability and legacy technology. These all hamper the use of real-time data insights.

The risk of sophisticated cyberattacks requires businesses to store data in secure environments that prohibit easy access and sharing, which is the bedrock of effective data use. The interoperability issue also handicaps how well businesses can tap into information, while analog systems are not set up to produce easily consumable data or use it quickly. A recent McKinsey report suggested that today only a fraction of data from connected devices is analyzed in real time, with the limits of legacy technology structures a pivotal contributor to this problem.

Without real-time data insights, companies will struggle to implement new digital innovations, whether products, services, business models or experiences. They won’t realize the improvements in customer experience, sustainability or competitive gains over time that respondents highlighted as motivation for digital transformation.

The business models, services and opportunities data enables

For instance, we see more traditionally product-focused industries, such as manufacturing, look at how they can switch to being a service-based business. They’ll continue to make and deliver products to customers, but while historically that would have been the end of the relationship, heading down the servitization route offers new opportunities.

That might be maintenance, upgrades or even complete replacement packages; it could be training services. The customer may never technically own the product but lease it instead. The initial upfront expenditure will decrease, but the manufacturer swaps that for longer-term recurring revenues. In exchange, the customer might receive guarantees of outputs or levels of service.

For it to work effectively and give customers peace of mind that servitization implies, manufacturers need to know when they have to fulfill their obligations. That requires real-time data, rapid analysis, and those outputs communicated to the relevant parts of the manufacturer to take action.

Or there’s the potential of smart connected devices. The data these products generate could be used to adjust their performance, providing additional value to users. A plugged-in electric car may not start charging until an off-peak session to benefit from lower prices.

In logistics, intelligent route planning, drawing on meteorological, traffic, fuel economy and emissions data sources could provide transportation providers with intelligence on various routes. It might be the fastest, most economical, most sustainable, or applied to air, land and sea modes of transportation; however this analysis is used, businesses will know that they are acting based on up-to-date information.

Time for the laggards to close the gap

These are just some of the new services, products and models that companies can deploy if they can access real-time data insights. If they can address their security concerns, overcome legacy limitations and improve data interoperability, they will start to become digitally advanced.

This ability allows leaders to build a significant lead over the chasing pack. The laggards are reaching a point of no return. If they do not act now, they will struggle ever to compete.

Download the report today to read about the other findings in Accelerating digital: A win-win-win for customer experience, the environment, and business growth.

Nemo Verbist
Nemo Verbist

Nemo is Senior Vice President of Europe at Orange Business. He has 20+ years experience leading teams to help clients transform into digital businesses by focusing on becoming data-driven, cloud-enabled, customer-centric companies. To help fulfill these new needs, Nemo orchestrates cross-functional agile teams to co-create and co-innovate in an eco-system of client, supplier and partners.