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Blog > June 2020 > Data-Informed Digital Transformation: A How-to Guide

Data-Informed Digital Transformation: A How-to Guide

The idea of digital transformation has been buzzing around industry conversations for years, often underpinned by a “progress or perish” type of mentality. However, despite the clear need for organizations to evolve with changing customer needs and industry standards, not all digital transformation is created equal.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is the integration of new, evolving digital technology in all areas of business to solve problems, deliver better business value and meet customer needs.

Data-Informed Digital Transformation

Data—the most valuable asset in most organizations—should be the guiding light throughout every organization’s decision-making process, especially when it comes to digital transformation. What processes need updating? What changes will make the biggest impact? Where do we start with our digital transformation? The answer lies in the data.

That said, a data-informed digital transformation is not entirely cut and dry, nor is it one-size-fits-all. Organizations need to envision what the modern enterprise looks like—i.e., what is the end goal? They also need to take several critical steps to make that goal possible. Here are some of the core steppingstones to realizing digital transformation at your company.

What Should Data-Informed Digital transformation Look Like?

The big-picture outputs of data-informed digital transformation are more efficiency and less wasted cost. However, if we take one step back and look at the IT ecosystem that enables those business benefits, there are five key checkpoints:

  • Data democratization—Democratizing data is a staple of the modern enterprise. Data democratization means that all users have access to data, and there are no bottlenecks (i.e., business users don’t need to go through IT first). With this access, people should also have a way to understand data so they can use it for decision-making and discover opportunities for the enterprise.Data access—While tied to democratization, data access is its own beast. According to ASG’s recent survey, finding and gaining access to the right data is the top barrier to an organization’s ability to realize the full value of their data. All information should be available digitally, and IT must put the necessary control to ensure only the right people gain access to it.
  • Data trust—Organizations must be able to establish trust with data. If data is democratized--i.e., put into the hands of users—but it can’t be trusted, then any decisions made based on that data are not valid. Decision-makers must be able to rely on their data to act nimbly in the face of adversity and opportunity.
  • Data-related compliance—Organizations are under pressure with regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA, and data privacy rules will only keep coming (and become more demanding). The modern enterprise should not only have a firm understanding of what consumer data they have, but also have a way to demonstrate compliance to regulators and auditors. This task has proven difficult for even digital natives.
  • Digital transformation culture—It’s not just about the tools; organizations must create a culture around digital transformation so that users are aligned across the enterprise. Employees should value data-informed innovation, efficiency and optimization just as much as the leadership team does. 

How to Lay the Foundation for Data-Informed Digital Transformation

While data-informed digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all strategy, every company needs to lay a similar foundation. Before embarking on digital transformation initiatives, organizations must establish data intelligence maturity and a big data environment. If they implement new technologies such as artificial intelligence without first laying that foundation, the output will not be good. In fact, organizations will have to backtrack to fill in the foundation eventually.

Organizations that want to achieve data-informed digital transformation should follow these four steps.

Four Steps to Achieve Data-Informed Digital Transformation

  1. Establish an inventory. A data inventory helps companies know the breadth and depth of data being collected and managed throughout the organization. With an automated inventory of data, users can quickly find out what data they have, where it is, where it’s from, who has touched it and how it has transformed. This knowledge, especially about personal information, is critical to establishing trust and complying with data privacy regulations.
  2. Rationalize the data. Once the inventory is set up, organizations must provide business context for the data. The combination of a business glossary with an enterprise repository connects business assets with IT assets and provides context to find the right data—linking business and technical information.
  3. Govern the data. It is not possible to maintain a rationalized data inventory or support any data management for more than a single project without implementing data governance and stewardship. Governance involves several factors, from ensuring data quality, to setting subscription and alert capabilities so stakeholders can track issues related to data that is important to them.
  4. Share the data. If organizations want to make data-informed decisions, they must be able to share the data amongst themselves in a safe way. It’s important to set up self-service access through a marketplace data catalog, which helps enable democratization. Publishing data sets also enables trusted access for all users, who can then collaborate and share those data sets. That way, people can easily find what they’re looking for and make decisions based on that.

Organizations that skip these steps and try to make a quantum leap cannot sustain their momentum in the long run. They must take the necessary steps on the front end. ASG’s Data Intelligence solution helps organizations achieve each of these steps, laying a foundation for trust using our data trust model.

For more information on how to establish data intelligence maturity, view this infographic. To learn more about ASG’s Data Intelligence solution, check out this product page.

Definitions

 Data democratization means that all users have access to data, and there are no bottlenecks (i.e., business users don’t need to go through IT first).
Digital Transformation is the integration of new, evolving digital technology in all areas of business to solve problems, deliver better business value and meet customer needs.