Using Big Data Analytics to Enable Dynamic Change for the Digital Era
Much has been written recently about the idea of "going digital". But what does that really mean? Some organizations have it marked as going mobile, while others perceive it as going down the omni-channel route. Given this confusion, it can be extremely difficult for organizations to define exactly what they mean by "going digital", and even more difficult to draw up a coherent strategy aimed at making it happen.
At IDC, we define digital transformation as a "set of practices and disciplines used to leverage new business, technology, and operation models in a bid to disrupt businesses, customers, and markets in pursuit of business performance and growth." It is interesting to note that "experience" is increasingly being viewed as the means to the end when it comes to going digital. Looking ahead, customer loyalty and retention will only be achieved by those organizations that can provide the most seamless and enriching experience possible in the shortest amount of time.
Across the world, mobility is increasingly being seen as a major enabler of transformation, governments and private entities leveraging mobile penetration and usage rates to improve citizen and business engagements. However, the underpinning motivation for going digital is the organization's ability to be able to respond to information more effectively and efficiently. This is where Big Data analytics comes into play.
Data – or information, depending on who you speak to – is often now viewed as being the currency of our times. However, it is the value that comes from this information that will drive true transformation. That's because the organizations seeking to embrace digital transformation are those that are able to use information, extract value from it, and use it to transform the experiences they provide to their customers accordingly.
Companies need to decide which metrics they want to use in order to better understand the experiences they are providing. Would you class your business as successful because it has repeat customers, it enjoys high customer satisfaction rankings, or its net new customer base is growing at a faster pace that the industry norm? Simply put, the metrics you put in place need to have an end goal in mind.
One of the best things that can be achieved with Big Data analytics is the ability to better understand your customers, product/service performance, and even your sales teams. Organizations can create custom experiences based on the insights they are able to harness through the creation of new and unique engagements. A lot of telcos, financial services firms, and airlines are utilizing this information to create experiences aimed at sustaining their existing customers and creating enough momentum to acquire new ones.
When using Big Data analytics to drive transformation, organizations do not need to restrict themselves to internal data sets. Indeed, there are a growing number of "data brokers" out there offering organizations the opportunity to acquire data sets that may not otherwise be available to them. This is particularly relevant for small and medium-sized businesses. For larger organizations, the challenge is around understanding the type and quality of data that is accessible to them.
At IDC, we believe it is also important for organizations to look into their internal operations and identify areas for improvement. Only then is it possible to create a level of agility and efficiency that can sustain improved service levels and provide new avenues for innovation and growth.
Ultimately, the utilization of Big Data analytics for digital transformation needs to consider two major factors – ownership and skills. Organizations need to define whether the ownership of a Big Data engagement lies with IT or with the business, especially when the business wants to innovate and expects IT to ensure that the foundations for this innovation are in place.
In some circumstances, it may be prudent to develop a role whereby a sort of account manager engages with both IT and the business, interchangeably speaking the language that makes most sense to the recipient. Alternatively, some organizations may seek out a Chief Digital Officer, but this role will require a lot of definition and clarity in order to truly add value, and the overall business leadership must show a commitment to making the position succeed.
Skills will remain a considerable challenge whenever an organization goes digital, both in terms of Big Data analytics and the IT /business ecosystem at large. There is a major skills shortage when it comes to data scientists and digital business analysts. Organizations need to address this by investing in developing the skill sets required, seeking out a service organization that can make up for the shortfall, or working with a vendor that can automate the analytics process and make it consumable for the business.
Digital transformation is very much a reality, and many organizations are already encountering increased competition from born-in-the-cloud businesses or from outside industries that were never previously a threat. Data is the major driver of that shift, and success will ultimately be defined by the way in which organizations use that data to enable dynamic change for the digital era.