How digitally-driven enterprises can foster data instinct and culture
Wed 17 Jul 2019 | Toby Isaacson
In the first part of this article, we discussed the need for digitally-driven enterprises to foster data instinct in their employees to truly harness the benefits of new technologies and analytics tools. Alongside this, we highlighted the cultural changes that will be key to making these initiatives a reality.
In this second part, we’ll look at the other key ingredient – continuous investment – and why organisations should shift their focus from purchasing physical assets and invest in the people and technology that drive the whole organisation forward.
Enabling digital through investment
A truly digital enterprise has new concerns that businesses haven’t faced in the past: The valuable assets it holds are less and less physical. This means there is much more value in investing rather than purchasing, and the investments won’t necessarily be in tangible assets such as property.
A purchase is a clear line item that, under the traditional business model, can be counted clearly by the people that care about that sort of thing. However, investing needs to evolve within organisations and move away from this traditional perspective. Specifically, three fundamental areas must-see continuous investment in modern, digitally-driven enterprises, to drive success.
As new technologies are put in place, the hard skills of the employees working for the organisation need to change. A lot of the menial tasks that employees used to complete can be automated or handed over to AI. The result will be that hard skills are more fluid, whereas soft skills will become more foundational.
From a language perspective, this probably sounds counter-intuitive. But creating data instinct is based on assisting individuals to overcome their fear of uncertainty, especially towards technologies they think might endanger their jobs.
Staff need to become confident in their ability to bring about lasting change by embracing change and using it to their advantage, and this mindset needs to be encouraged and allowed to flourish.
Complex processes are commonplace, and this can be a severe hindrance. Businesses talk about ‘best practice’ but unfortunately rarely apply it. Similarly, organisations might take a framework and think that it just needs a bit of tweaking and, down the line, end up far from the original goal.
The fact is that ongoing process change needs to be funded to keep up with constantly evolving trends. You don’t need to fund a massive project because (hopefully) your culture has shifted so that opportunities for improvement are constantly identified and get a “yes” without much ceremony. Things just work – but they can only work if processes can evolve.
The core element to all of this is technology, it underpins everything. Choosing the right technology will enable the business to drive change.
Vanilla toolsets have simple approaches that will not fit every organisation. In reality, they won’t fit any organisation – it is never as simple as plug and play.
Technology moves at such a great pace that organisations need proper ongoing investment just to keep up with their competition. But if the aim is for an enterprise that can operate in a decade’s time, the technology needs more than a purchase order for licenses. It will need consultancy and services to support the people and process change that is happening.
From a business perspective, we are in the midst of a huge shift. Data will play a key role because there are similar developments happening to much of the technology we use. Organisations at the forefront of this process will be the ones that encourage and develop employees to share knowledge and information throughout the business and enable them with data instinct.
Company culture cannot instil fear of what the data might show, because, in reality, the worst it could reveal are potential improvements that can be made. These improvements will then form the core to driving progress, which in turn will serve to underpin a positive data-centric culture.
In this kind of culture, employees and their opinions are valued because of a genuine eagerness to deliver the best services and products possible – because they will be richly rewarded for progress that is tangible. This might sound like a business utopia, but today there is no reason why this can’t be a reality for the modern digital enterprise if underpinned by committed investment in the organisation’s evolution.