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Delivering a data-driven business

Aligning data with technology & business strategies for a fully integrated vision.

We know that digital transformation has never been more important, but the fact remains that most programmes under-deliver or fail outright.

Some research suggests as many as three out of four transformation programmes fail to achieve what they set out to deliver.

In our recent paper ‘Your formula for digital & data transformation’ our research found that only 5% meet their original ambitions. Furthermore, half of C-suite respondents felt their organisation was unclear on how it would achieve its vision. The same percentage recognised that while delivery was effective in pockets, the overall experience was disjointed and just under half had concerns about their company’s approach to strategy and decision-making.

That’s why we partnered with DataIQ in their new report ‘Business Transformation – catch up or get caught out’, to find out how its network of senior data leaders is faring with transformation. We know that every business is unique in terms of its challenges, assets and opportunities, which means every transformation project has to be too. Despite what some consultancies imply, there are no pat answers.

You can’t buy transformation by the yard.

Yes, Transform have processes to get to the right answers, but the solution always needs to be bespoke based on the required, unique formula for each organisation. The good news is that nearly one in four of those surveyed for this report say they are in an advanced stage of using data and analytics and almost everyone is running a transformation of some description, be that business, data or technology led.

Everybody seems to be on a journey to improve their customer experience, as might be expected. However, what is surprising is that six out of ten people said there is at least some level of alignment between their business, data, and technology strategies. Given the low success rate of transformation programmes, this simply does not tally up.

Where is transformation being led from?

When we dig into the barriers to alignment, however, some interesting themes arise. Most respondents cited silos preventing collaboration and a lack of alignment among senior leaders. This is despite wide agreement that transformations are being led from the top – but only 26% stated that senior leaders are actively involved.

This can be a recipe for disaster – good senior sponsorship, unity and commitment from the leadership team is seen as one of the biggest contributing factors where transformation has been delivered successfully. Whereas, unsurprisingly, their absence was also identified as one of the main contributing factors in business transformations failing.

Establishing success

So how do you make sure you are in the 5% of transformation projects that do deliver? We wanted to chat with data leaders to establish the successes and barriers they have experienced in implementing a data strategy within their wider digital transformation journey. There were some interesting themes which arose in our round table discussion.

Organisations have been forced to rethink and realign their objectives in the face of the pandemic, taking on a stance of extreme prioritisation. There has been a need for businesses to transform their KPIs with a focus on the shorter term, so that organisations are able to pivot and change more readily through a more agile approach. The key here for many businesses is in not trying to fix everything at once – in fact changing direction every couple of months has ultimately helped to keep people interested.

How do you assess the baseline of the needle that has moved? And how do you move it back to where you want it? COVID-19 led to many organisations having their budgets vastly cut, it also provided the opportunity to prove the worth and capabilities of data science. This meant that rather than businesses splashing out on all-singing, all-dancing tech platforms, the focus has been on being able to demonstrate tangible value from what already exists and how increasing data literacy across the organisation is an enabler to doing that.

Prioritise testing, measure results

For those who have previously struggled to adapt quickly, access to analysis ready data has become pivotal in remaining customer-centric. Instead of concentrating on what the business wants, organisations need to focus on the requirements of the customers and tune into their needs. However, limited resources and business as usual can make acting quickly on insight challenging. Sometimes in these instances it pays to prioritise testing and measure the results, to convince the organisation to release more investment.

People spoke about adopting a lab and factory process to deliver value as you go. What is meant here is making changes in a safe environment to see if they have the desired value – then work with data engineers to embed these new processes into the factory, aka the everyday. This type of collaboration will help adopt true buy in across the wider business and work towards that universal vision, or North Star. The focus must be on bringing everyone involved in a transformation on that journey. By ensuring everyone knows their place in the eco-system of transformation and future success, you are more likely to break those difficult silos.

If you are a data leader and would be interested in being involved in Transform’s future data round table events, please drop us an email:

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