Now really is the time to invest in your data!
The Covid-19 pandemic and other transformational issues such as Brexit and geo-politics, played a major role in the wider systemic change in values, behaviours and expectations that is developing worldwide. I like to think of this as a new and positive form of contagion – a contagion of change. Examples include the rise in social commerce and alternative payments opening-up new opportunities to access, especially for older consumers, and evidence that 'social good' outcomes, from energy to inclusivity, are influencing consumer and employee choices, especially for Gen Z.
I would argue over the short-medium term this will represent a paradigm shift for organisations and business model design - embedding shared values across digital transformation and social impact outcomes for business AND society.
In this piece, we now focus on the ‘how’ of creating shared value and addressing the challenges of silo-ed omni channel data, the rising risks of cyber threat areas (a 300% increase in global attacks in March alone), a lack of data re-purposing (90% of data archived is never used again), IT-Business alignment complexities and the imperative for increased cost efficiency - ‘doing more with less’. This can only be sustainably achieved by moving beyond Data and Information (relationships to environment), to Knowledge (how to apply) and Wisdom (when to apply) – through the missing critical active component of experience (Eaves 2020). This can take many forms and here the capacity to apply technology to enhance our human experience and decision-making comes to the fore. It is this combination and trusted complementary partnership that can enable consistent and informed acting upon the insights that quality data can bring. So, what does this look like in practice?
To move across this critical D-I-K-W continuum, it is a strategic approach to data that will help large organisations, SME’s and individuals alike to make informed, actionable and measurable decisions to achieve their desired goals, whether that be streamlining and optimising internal workflows, or transforming the development and marketing of business services. With the right approach, the possibilities are limitless!
This cannot be emphasised enough - the criticality of preparation, preparation, preparation! In fact, around 80% of data science activity time is related to this central foundation. The starting point is focusing on the perennial issue of Business-IT alignment, ensuring the business problem we are seeking to address with data remains front and centre – and furthermore, it is clearly defined with a shared understanding across all stakeholders. Next, is the process of data arranging and cleansing, which typically equates to a quarter of the overall process to achieving data value.
It is followed by data exploration, enhanced by AI and ensuring appropriate and validated democratisation of access (breaking down traditional silos). Further, it involves attention to critical aspects including the potential for implicit or explicit biases, including human ones, which some 180 identified. Investing in developing teams with a diversity of experience, perspectives and skill sets can play a pivotal role in this process, from finding and negating bias risks, to improving creativity, satisfaction and productivity, and enhancing the explainability of decision-making. So how can technology and trusted partnership help?
It is time to focus on location, location, location! Turning to the vital pillar of data storage and its simplification of operation and accessibility – but not sophistication of functionality and its meaningful measurable impacts. In other words, let’s:
Make things as simple as possible …. but not simpler (A. Einstein)
An incremental and flexible approach is vital, starting with the data strategic focus described and alongside this, building up a highly performing and highly scalable back-end infrastructure that allows the seamless, reliable and efficient collection, security, protection and management of your data resources. Awareness around what is available and the support there is to apply and flexibility finance this technology upgrade is key. And even more so in these cost sensitive times - reflecting on the growing influence, but also growing pressures on the SMB sector - in which budgetary constraints are consistently cited as their leading IT challenge.
Technology partnership should and must be accessible for organisations of all sizes and this is one of the areas I most like about the IBM FlashSystem 5000 family – it is within reach – and designed on the principles of simplicity, flexibility, efficiency, embedded trust and resilience. This helps open-up the benefits of enterprise-grade capabilities, cloud readiness and innovation, but with entry-level pricing and flexible monthly consumption models to offer scale out of performance or scale up capacity as and when it is needed, but not before. It also provides much needed holistic visibility, with the ability to administer the entire environment through a single pane of glass.
We live in a data driven world, and while data is clearly the catalysing source for innovation, storage is the fundamental enabler for hybrid multi cloud, artificial intelligence, big data and modern data protection. To negate the risks, and optimise the vast insight opportunities, the time is now to invest in data and save on storage.
Prof. Sally Eaves is a highly experienced Chief Technology Officer, Professor in Advanced Technologies and a Global Strategic Advisor on Digital Transformation specialising in the application of emergent technologies, notably AI, FinTech, Blockchain & 5G disciplines, for business transformation and social impact at scale. An international Keynote Speaker and Author, Sally was an inaugural recipient of the Frontier Technology and Social Impact award, presented at the United Nations and has been described as the ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’ - founding Aspirational Futures to enhance inclusion, diversity and belonging in the technology space and beyond.
Dr. Sally Eaves is a highly experienced Chief Technology Officer, Professor in Advanced Technologies and a Global Strategic Advisor on Digital Transformation specialising in the application of emergent technologies, notably AI, FinTech, Blockchain & 5G disciplines, for business transformation and social impact at scale. An international Keynote Speaker and Author, Sally was an inaugural recipient of the Frontier Technology and Social Impact award, presented at the United Nations in 2018 and has been described as the ‘torchbearer for ethical tech’ founding Aspirational Futures to enhance inclusion, diversity and belonging in the technology space and beyond.