Embracing data for the digital environment

The past 12 months have seen digital becoming a focal point for many businesses. Yet, the market is still fragmented in how to approach dealing with the complexities of migrating. Part of this entails preparing for this new [digital] world but not completely understanding the building blocks required.

Contributing to this is the misconception that technology provides a silver bullet to organisational challenges. But, it requires more than just purchasing a Web platform and thinking that is enough to turn your business into a digital one. There needs to be a full paradigm shift taking place within the organisation.

While financial services companies have digital on the strategic agenda, other industries are lagging in terms of understanding the urgency of transforming. Perceptions need to be changed and focused on getting management out of their comfort zone. While some are at the forefront of innovation, others are still too traditional in their outlooks.

Data, data, data

A focus on data and analytics will be essential to help change this. Making sense of data and using it to gain a better understanding of customers and their preferences will be critical throughout the value chain of the organisation.

The likes of Web platforms, chat bots, and even machine-learning require cognitive abilities. After all, a chat bot is only as intelligent as the information that is provided. There is likely quite a bit of unfamiliarity from senior management who do not understand the technical requirements and capabilities needed for a digital world.

Again, this is where prioritising data comes in. This forms the foundation of a digital environment. While many understand that information is important, they do not have sight of the kind of data that is collected, what to do with it, and how to link it with consumption in focused and targeted methods.

Overcoming challenges

Yes, there are difficulties involved in moving from a legacy to a digital one. However, companies who have completed (or are still busy with) the transition typically start by building a green field solution in parallel to the legacy one and gradually migrating to the new environment.

They can then add on components as required until it permeates all facets of the business. This has the additional benefit of showing all stakeholders the benefits that going digital offer. By the end of this year, most companies in South Africa would have realised the importance of going digital and would have started planned a well-rounded strategy for transforming.

Ultimately, people need to start engaging in digital this year to truly understand their customer requirements if they are to remain ompetitive in the future.

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