Data insights. Agility and precision in decision-making. Enhanced customer experiences. These are the imperatives of modern business. Nevertheless, no matter how much companies want to achieve these goals, there always seems to be some element that is hindering them, says Chris Volschenk, CEO of StorTech.
“Even if they have implemented the latest and greatest technology solutions, and are far down the line in their digital transformation journey, many organisations are finding that there is always a ‘missing link’. In some cases, this is relatively easy to overcome – through yet another technology or tool – and in others, it requires a complete overhaul of the IT ecosystem. These measures, however, are often not necessary if they have the right kind of visibility into their operations.”
He adds that because businesses tend to work in silos, and because they rely on legacy systems, change becomes a mammoth task when implementing an innovative idea or a new solution. Digital transformation is supposed to alleviate this situation, but because of a lack of visibility, implementing the right technology quickly becomes a challenge.
“What it really comes down to is that having visibility across the entire technology ecosystem can have a transformative effect that extends way beyond IT. However, visibility is difficult to achieve without the right tools in place, and without the integration of tools and technologies across the enterprise,” says Volschenk.
“Today’s business environment relies on immediacy and innovation, and there is constant pressure on IT departments to enable this. Traditional approaches may have been able to get the job done, but they are no longer enough to meet modern demands in an agile way.”
He adds that technologies such as the cloud have helped provide some agility, but the missing link remains the ability to see – and leverage – the information that the technology is providing.
This information is not limited to the data being generated by customers, but includes all the data being generated by the business. From the health of the technologies and systems deployed throughout the organisation, to the effectiveness of projects, to the customer insights that are the promise of data-driven initiatives, the volume of information available to a company to help keep pace with innovation is enormous.
As of 2017, 41 per cent of companies had either implemented big data initiatives, were in the process of implementing it, or were expanding their existing implementation, according to a Forrester study. However, the value that companies are seeing from these initiatives lags far behind the investment.
Volschenk points out that many companies claim they want to manage their information as an asset, but they don’t actually know what information they have, and even if they know what they have, they don’t know what its potential value is. He adds that a lot of focus has been placed on customer data, but internal data can be just as valuable – if not more so.
“Every company collects information about their business content and context, but most don’t have the ability to see what that information actually means. This limits them from recognising the true impact of their business processes and technologies. Most companies will say they have a big data plan in place, but true visibility goes way beyond collecting and using customer data to provide better customer service.”
Visibility, Volschenk says, is about having insight into every area of a business. “It is about end-to-end control; about consolidating that insight and control and turning it into a tangible tool that provides new avenues for innovation and efficiencies. The question then becomes how you can use that to your competitive advantage,” he adds.
“While there are several ways to leverage the benefits of visibility to stay ahead of rivals, companies should have a more integrated approach to manage their IT ecosystem. Once again, integration of tools and technologies across the company is essential. Digital capabilities improve functionality and enhance the overall manageability of data in the digital transformation journey,” he says.
“By using data insights, companies can identify new product releases or evaluate marketing efforts to ensure their effectiveness. Furthermore, the identification of differentiators from informed data is the key to keeping a competitive edge. The sky is the limit,” Volschenk concludes.