Is Big Data just a hype word? Is digital transformation a dream scenario that is impossible to reach?

In my discussions with both experts in the field and individuals working at companies trying to implement digital strategies, one thing remains clear. Very few people understand in a practical term how to implement a long term, measurable, data driven transformation in their organizations.

There are some shining examples of data warriors who have the amazing gift of being able to execute on digital transformation but these people are far and few between for the challenging times we face now.

One major stumbling block in understanding and implementing a digital strategy is how organizations create, store and use their data to create long term intelligence used in creating sustainable business value.  For many, data is most often treated as a fixed and sunk cost that must be “stored” somewhere and left to die and rot and this is the wrong mindset and a real show stopper for many organizations.

Your Data Is A Living Organism – Treat It As Such

A key notion in digital transformation is a mindset change about data.

Lets start by asking some simple questions:

  1. What is the purpose of the data we are creating?
  2. What do we do with the data we already have? Does it create business value?
  3. How do we use the data to create business value?
  4. How do we map our various systems data together?
  5. Are we willing to invest time and money to clean our old data and bring it to life?

These types of questions (there are many more) are digital transformation type questions where data is no longer an annoying fixed and sunk cost but a living and moving part of any organization or as I say:

“The invisible man at the table”.

Before, jumping all over the big data, digital transformation band wagon or if you feel you have gone done the wrong path then stop and reflect. Stop and create a data strategy that tie your data to your business outcomes.

For existing companies the struggle and the path can be a complicated and expensive but survival is in this rabbit hole. For small or new companies, it seems you have the competitive advantage because you don’t carry the data baggage and can’t start with a clean slate.

Finally, digital transformation is not only change in for how organizations conduct business it is a change in how humans interact and if your organization is having trouble understanding and adopting to this change then start with your employees. Create a movement towards open network mindsets where knowledge and ideas are shared openly without reprise for error or for “being stupid”. Organizations that change their culture towards digital transformation internally have an easier time adopting digital transformation externally.