The next phase of technology-driven transformation is data.
Are you ready to set your strategy?

Just like the move to the cloud a decade ago, scaled, meaningful transformation through data touches every part of an organisation. This makes a solid strategy an absolute must.

As someone who has worked in the digital, software and cloud space for the past 15 years, I’ve seen technology trends come and go. Something that’s got me thinking at the moment is how much the current conversations around the use of data in organisations echo the emergent days of cloud technology.

I was an early pioneer of public cloud, particularly in Local Government. During that time I noticed that the organisations that made the most progress were ones that wrote a strategy detailing what they were going to do with it, how it was going to improve their business, and how they were going to manage and run it. This strategy was then signed off at the very top, serving as a public declaration of intent to harness the cloud.

I’m certain that when cloud is not championed at the highest levels like this, it’s seen as “just another IT project” instead of something that enables fundamental transformation of an organisation. Although many of these strategies – particularly in government – lacked detail around practical implementation, they were critical in setting a new direction at the time.

This strategy was then signed off at the very top, serving as a public declaration of intent to harness the cloud

The Gap Between Ambition and Reality

The current situation with data is similar. Even more than cloud, exploitation of data at scale requires a serious change to how an organisation operates. It requires change from every part of the organisation including leadership, people, processes, technology and supply chain.

Whilst many organisations’ leadership teams say they want to undergo a data transformation, I’m not sure the majority have considered deeply the reality of what this means beyond technology. The same is true of their consulting and technology suppliers – many have added data on a services line to other digital offerings because that’s what you do – without really exploring what it means for their client.

To “do” data properly, organisations need to figure out the implications for their people; for their operational processes such as finance, governance and HR; for ethics and security – the list goes on. And just as we saw with cloud, it’s difficult to undergo such fundamental change without a comprehensive, actionable strategy.

So, if you want to change the way your organisation works with data, and transform your organisation through data – start with the strategy. I promise you it will be worth it. If you’ve already started with data science teams and experimentation it’s never too late to go back to a strategy – it will be all the richer for incorporating those learnings.

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