It’s no secret that organisations that are data-driven outperform the rest in terms of growth, efficiency and innovation. The question is how they do it. As data-driven companies begin to dominate the market, the challenge is to understand how they get the most out of their data and apply it to the most critical of their business challenges.
Nimbus Ninety members gathered online with DataStax, an open source, cloud-native database provider, to discuss the different technologies that are driving recovery and growth, as well as to explore what the path is to becoming a data-driven enterprise.
THE ANATOMY OF THE DATA-DRIVEN ENTERPRISE
As COVID-19 hit earlier in the year, digital projects across the world were split into two camps: those that were annihilated and those that were accelerated. As Bryan Kirschner, VP of Strategy at DataStax, shared, many companies that were progressing towards being data-driven had to rethink their strategy.
“Progressing towards being data-driven became broken down,” he explained. “Some companies were building capability and that schedule got disrupted; others were trying to overcome digital at scale and couldn’t cope with the masses of data.”
To help “doers learn from doers”, DataStax surveyed 1,400 CIOs, executives, and hands-on technical practitioners about their company’s progress toward the data-driven enterprise. Here is a summary of key findings that provides an opportunity for you to benchmark where your organisation stands in relation to the global leaders.
An encouragement is the number of organisations that have actually been able to accelerate the steps towards digital transformation during this time. Nearly one third of the leaders who were surveyed as part of this whitepaper, said that they were investing more as a result of the crisis.1 A public sector CIO explained that the barriers to change were obstructionist attitudes from areas of the business that didn’t think it would work. However, the crisis has forced movement: as this CIO said, “it’s harder to be an obstructionist when you’ve already proven the other path works and you’ve done it for a month”.
Following the findings of the whitepaper, Bryan asserted that the companies who have made the most progress on the data and business growth fronts have been working with these new technologies. Another important secret to success was having a company-wide data strategy, as well as a board-level leader to drive this strategy (whether this is the CDO or otherwise). Not only does this drive internal buy-in and sponsorship for digital transformation and data strategy, but the impact is clear: data progress (scalability and portability) was four times more likely for companies that had these aspects in place.
Bryan closed with a poll, inquiring about members’ data strategies following the global health crisis. In it, 71% of members responded that COVID-19 has accelerated transformation, and 76% see major opportunities in digital transformation in the next 12 months.
THE DEBATE: HOW TO BECOME DATA-DRIVEN
Following a poll asking about members’ data strategies and positions, there was a discussion about practically applying the lessons learned from the best-in-class. Oliver Ogg, Digital Strategy EMEA for Apigee Google Cloud, kicked off the discussion with an angle on APIs. With siloed data being a big challenge for organisations, leveraging APIs and microservices creates a lens through which to capture really rich data. Oliver discussed leveraging the efficiencies of scale, and obtaining risk data across different parts of the business. “How do you aggregate that data and deal with complexity?” he challenged the audience.
Dr Kerem Tomak, founder and head of the Big Data, Advanced Analytics and AI division at Commerzbank AG, shared his thoughts on the people side of data-driven success. He argued that if you don’t have top-down buy-in and strong commitment across the organisation, any kind of data-driven digital transformation will fail. It starts with the leader who has the mantle of driving the transformation and investing in the people.
A key aspect that was discussed was business outcomes and challenges. As Kerem argued, it takes years to become data-driven so it is important to start with understanding what is the most valuable outcome that the business will have from better and faster access to information. For many organisations, the data is coming in from hundreds of different sources, and prioritising what is needed is key to not becoming overwhelmed with complexity. Oliver agreed, mentioning that it is crucial to spend time with the product mindset and customer team to really drive value to the key parts of the organisation.
Another challenge that was raised was the question of regulation, especially when many organisations view it as an obstacle to overcome. One member weighed in with the comment, “objecting to regulation is like objecting to rain: it’s not going to go away, it’s part of the environment and you have to do what you can to minimise the damage!” There was unanimous agreement on this: regulation should not be a surprise cost, but a measured risk like any other.
Having discussed the secrets of becoming a truly data-driven company, it was apparent that the key ingredients were varied but of equal importance. However, the proven most important aspects are buy-in across the organisation, understanding the business needs and the right technology.
1) DataStax, July 2020. Progress Toward the Data-Driven Enterprise. Accessed at: https://www.datastax.com/resources/whitepaper/progress-toward-data-driven-enterprise
This event was in partnership with DataStax, an open-source, scale-out, cloud-native NoSQL database provider.