The role of information in transformation: the strategic challenge

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Do we know what information our organizations hold and what the value is - infographic Iron Mountain

Do we know what information our organizations hold?infographic Iron Mountain

Digital transformation and digital business need digital and digitized information. If you can’t fully leverage the value of information and data to, for instance enhance customer experience, innovate or speed up processes, you can’t succeed.

Information is at the core of the new digital ecosystem, IDC said earlier this year as mentioned in a blog post on the need to harness the value of insights and artificial intelligence. To succeed in digital transformation, organizations need to effectively use information as “a critical enabler of the digital transformation of enterprises” the research firm emphasizes. It seems like the most obvious thing in the world. Yet, for many organizations it’s still hard to achieve.

If digital transformation will be at the center of corporate strategy as mentioned in a previous blog post it’s certainly worth diving deeper into the role and reality of information (management) in transformation.

The gaps in the perceived role of information in transformation

How well are we prepared to be ready for the digital transformation economy as IDC sees it coming (y)our way? The information and data reality shows there is still a long way to go. So where do we begin?

For all the predictions and talk about digital transformation and the awareness that big data analyticsand cognitive computing are crucial in making it happen, the challenges on the information and content front are still huge.

And it’s time to deal with them. There are significant gaps between the role and reality of information management in digital transformation versus the capability to leverage information and data in the field. Identifying these gaps and acting upon the insights means responding to achieve successful digital transformation.

Digital transformation and data/information in numbers

Digital transformation is important for your business today. At the occasion of a recent Forum, Forrester tweeted this chilling fact you might have heard before: 87 percent of firms are involved in a business transformation with digital at its core (but) just 25 percent will meet their goals.

It’s also important for your business tomorrow.

With digital transformation becoming the center of growth and innovation strategies, the role of information and the capability to understand it and put it into action is omnipresent in IDC’s latest forecasts.

  • In 2016, the research firm says, 65 percent of large organizations will have committed to become information-based ones. Why? Because we understand the key role of information in transformation, customer experience, innovation, you name it. However, there is a big difference between commitment and capability.
  • The organizational focus will shift towards intangible capital, IDC claims – think about people, relationships and information as the connectors. Think about innovation capacity, data, customer experience, speed and agility, the ability to scale – anything needed to succeed in a rapidly changing and accelerating ecosystem.
  • According to IDC by 2020 60 percent of the G2000 will have doubled productivity by digitally transforming many processes from human-based to software-based delivery. See the role of digital information and making sense of it using cognitize computing that obviously requires digital information to power this transition?

Leveraging data and information is not just an enabler of digital transformation anymore; it’s at the heart of a digital transformation economy.

IDC predicts that by 2018, half of all consumers will interact with services based on cognitive computing on a regular basis. Source.

Information maturity and capability: perceptions versus reality

So, where are the gaps and challenges? Below are a few that clearly indicate where there is a lot of work to do.

According to recent research by Iron Mountain and PwC, 67 percent of European and 75 percent of North American business leaders believe they make the most of their information. However, at the same time the research found that only 4 percent of business can extract full value from the information they hold and 36 percent lacks the tools and skills they need to derive that value.

Only 4 percent of businesses can extract full value from the information they hold - infographic Iron Mountain

Only 4 percent of businesses can extract full value from the information they hold – infographic Iron Mountain

In that regard it was also pretty amazing to read that, according to a Colt survey of European IT decision makers, most CIOs favor intuition over data intelligence when making decisions. True, context matters and there is more than one circumstance where intuition and certainly personal experience are important. Moreover, data is not the enemy of creative approaches and innovative solutions and decisions, they all go hand in hand. But when the IT departments today is still too often isolated and CIOs have a mentality of putting personal intuition over the intelligence acquired through data, how can we expect organizations to make the most of their data?

The challenge leaders face is that the pace of change is accelerating faster than their ability to manage it. These leaders need new strategies to deal with this wave of digital transformation; the old approaches no longer work. Source.

Being more strategic about data, information management and digital transformation

Don’t we put enough trust in the insights gathered from data? Or do we doubt our own capabilities regarding information and data? If that is the case – and it often is – then maybe it’s time that we start looking very thoroughly at how to make sure that we capture, process and route the right data where it offers most value. And to understand where information sits, how it travels and how to tie it to business outcomes.

Three of four architects strive to make their firms data driven. But well-meaning technology managers only deal with part of the problem: How to use technology to glean deeper, faster insight from more data — and more cheaply. But consider that only 29% of architects say their firms are good at connecting analytics results to business outcome. This is a huge gap! Source.

A way to do it is indeed by being very strategic about information management, just as we need to be strategic about digital transformation which is a business phenomenon instead of a technological one.

By being strategic about it all and looking at the business reality and priorities, we can make sure that we don’t belong to the two-thirds of enterprises that fail to meet best practice standards for data control as research found, to the many companies that waste considerable amounts on useless data as another study reports and – ultimately – to the majority that will not succeed in digital transformation as Forrester says.

Almost two years ago Gartner estimated that poor-quality data on average costs organisations a whopping $14.2 million annually. Source.

With a long list of data and cases indicating how poorly many businesses still unlock the value within the data that matter, let alone are able to properly manage it at all, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in this reality the role of the Chief Data Officer is gaining ever more traction. But the CDO alone won’t do it if the cultural and strategic shift is not there.

Starting at the source

CIOs and information managers have an opportunity. It’s up to them to grab it by seriously reconsidering the whole information management chain from a value and future growth perspective.

But then they need to act now as the work is far from done, starting with getting paper out of the way, seeing where the value sits and capturing the data that matters in order to become truly data-driven by speeding up the route from data to insight and action.

Paper is a good place to start thinking about digital transformation, because it is the Achilles heel of most organizations. Paper clogs up processes. Paper creates disruptions to smooth information flows. Digital processes require digital information. Source.

In that regard, let’s end with a quote here from AIIM’s recent “Paper-Free Progress: Measuring Outcomes” Industry Watch paper: “Even amongst those who have transformed their back-office processes, there is still much work to be done to capture multi-channel customer communications and unify front-office response”.

Being more strategic starts with a management mandate to digitize - source AIIM Paper-Free Progress Measuring Outcomes

Being more strategic starts with a management mandate to digitize – source AIIM: Paper-Free Progress Measuring Outcomes

Gaps again indeed. Just as we have customer experience gaps, the above mentioned information and data maturity gaps and those gaps in disjointed systems, divisions and processes as the AIIM paper reminds us. Let’s close them and get strategic about it, starting with the mandate to reduce paper and up the speed of digitization.