Lindsay Lucas is Managing Director of Software Solved
It might seem counter-intuitive to focus on data integration and data management in the middle of a global pandemic, but if your company wants to survive and thrive, that is precisely what you should be focusing on right now.
Over the past 3-5 years, many companies have set out on journeys to digitally transform their business processes to leverage modern technology trends and re-imagine the relationship between workers, IT systems and ultimately the customer.
Although digital transformation has forced companies to change their business models in order to adapt, it’s not necessarily the companies that are driving this change. Instead, this change is being driven by the customer.
Customer expectation has changed; digital transformation has to reflect this
Inarguably, customers’ expectations, preferences, and reasons as to how and why they choose a vendor should be at the core of any digital transformation project. Customers are now used to an online world where the levels of customer experience are extraordinarily high, driven by the likes of Amazon. Customers do not differentiate between ordering online to any other interaction they have with companies.
This, coupled with the pandemic, has meant that sectors who were traditionally slower to embrace digital transformation or just didn’t adapt because it wasn’t a high priority, have had to accelerate the digitisation of their customer and supply chain interactions and internal operations to meet the new demands placed on them.
Whether it is a short-term fix or long-term solution, digital transformation initiatives have introduced a new cultural mind-set within companies about the use of data to drive strategic and operational decisions.
The impact of the pandemic
The pandemic has meant that there has been a dramatic shift to working online meaning that digitalisation has seen a rapid increase at both operational and industry levels. This is unprecedented compared to the first digital transformation initiatives where most companies focused on specific business processes – sales, customer service, supply chain management.
With companies shifting to remote work models and no-contact work environments for on-site workers, leaders need to accelerate the delivery of digital transformation initiatives across the enterprise – enabling all workers to leverage technology to be productive without traditional face-to-face interactions.
Company leaders also realise that, if they want to be effective in leading remote organisations, they need more complete, accurate, and real-time data from across the company to make informed business decisions. That is where data integration and transformation comes in.
Quick-fix solutions to ensure business continuity can’t be considered for the long-term
When entire workforces shifted to remote working at the same time, it wasn’t practical to take a top-down, waterfall project management approach to digital transformation, business process re-engineering, and enterprise data integration. Therefore, many quickly implemented short-term, quick fix solutions to ensure immediate business continuity, understandably putting it ahead of looking for a longer-term strategy.
With too many moving parts to manage, there hasn’t in some cases been the time to develop an “all-encompassing plan” before implementing it. However, quick-fix strategies to keep companies going will most likely only work in the short-term.
Companies need to be looking at long-term solutions now in order to maintain business continuity in the coming months rather than relying on the short-term solutions that they have put in place. The key to success here is to empower individual business functions (and employees) to make decisions to optimise their work locally-within a global (enterprise-wide) framework and set of standards that enable cross-functional integration and data aggregation for decision making.
Data integration is the key
Data integration is the key to leading a dispersed organisation. If the data from all of the operational systems are integrated, aggregated, summarised, and curated into a set of informative and actionable dashboards; business leaders and employees who use it day-to-day, are well equipped to manage operations, even without physical face-to-face interactions or even being in the same office.
Recent disruptions have only reinforced the prevailing notion that data warehousing isn’t some future aspiration, it’s an urgent mandate at the heart of the business. But a rushed migration without a clear strategy can end up costing the business more, leaving existing legacy applications racking up costs.
An intelligent digital transformation needs to balance speed and value. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, each should start with defining the value, mapping out the journey and determining how cloud will enable the overall business strategy and ambition.