Better data utilisation should top organisations’ new year’s resolutions
By Jacques du Preez, CEO at Intellinexus
After a rollercoaster year of lockdowns, power outages, social unrest, continued disruption from the pandemic and a landmark local elections cycle, South Africans are understandably happy to see the end of 2021 and get some welcome respite.
For business leaders, the past year – in fact, the past few years – would have left some lingering question marks over how they could better prepare their organisations for an uncertain future.
It’s impossible to predict what 2022 will hold, but one thing is certain: Business leaders that don’t use tools and technologies to eliminate uncertainty and gain greater insight into the business and its environment will leave the fortunes of their organisations over to chance and guesswork.
For any business, the ability to make good, accurate decisions is critical. In the current period of uncertainty and widespread disruption, having accurate insights over every aspect of the organisation and its operations could mean the difference between success and failure.
This requires a business strategy built on the foundations of effective data utilisation. Having accurate, real-time data over the total performance of the organisation can empower decision-makers with greater clarity and accuracy in the direction they choose for their organisations.
Business leaders are aware of this: Eight in 10 business leaders in one study believe that not embracing data will cause them to lose competitive position and risk extinction.
Building a business strategy that harnesses the power of data and analytics can unlock a treasure chest of benefits and competitive advantages, including greater operational efficiency, improved productivity, better and faster decision-making, discovering new revenue opportunities and driving better bottom-line results.
Unlocking the value of data
Successfully leveraging data and analytics for better decision-making is not an easy task. Many organisations still find it difficult to deal with the complexities that emerge during data and analytics implementations.
Such efforts naturally require that organisations change processes, re-engineer systems, adopt and integrate new technologies, and drive a company-wide culture change that puts data-driven decision-making at the core of the organisation’s operations.
More importantly, any investment into data should be preceded by an honest re-evaluation of the broader business strategy. Technology and data can transform the way a business runs, but they are no replacements for a well thought-out business strategy.
Prioritising new data initiatives in terms of their potential impact on high-value areas of the business – for example, better understanding how customers wish to interact with the business, or gaining real-time insights into the supply chain – helps encourage business leaders to leverage data-driven insights at every level of decision-making.
Business outcomes from data inputs
Building a robust data architecture further contributes to the organisation’s ability to achieve business outcomes from data initiatives.
Ensuring that data sources are accurate and trusted, determining the speed at which different types of data insights are needed, and driving internal changes to build a culture of data-driven decision-making can encourage adoption of new data initiatives and help deliver the desired outcomes to the business.
Simply buying new data tools and technologies won’t give organisations the desired results. You can’t buy yourself out of a poor business strategy; technology is only ever the enabler – never the driver – of improved business outcomes.
For example, acquiring the latest in data-driven customer engagement technology won’t win you hearts and minds unless you have a business strategy in place that prioritises the development of products, services and customer experiences that directly meet your customers’ needs and expectations.
Finally, any data initiative aimed at generating positive business outcomes should strive for automation. Having high-value internal resources doing mundane, easily automated tasks creates immense inefficiency and can cause bottlenecks that hold up progress in other parts of the business.
Putting the effective use of data at the top of the organisation’s new year’s resolutions could help business leaders achieve greater predictability, accuracy and efficiency. Considering the state of the world and the disruptive nature of our current business environment, I can think of no greater gift for any organisation.