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Have you selected a Data Technology Partner for your Data-Driven Transformation?

Data exists in every business. But not everyone has a process or strategy to collect all the raw data generated, analyse it in real-time, and derive insights for smarter business decisions. This is what differentiates highly mature data-driven organisations from the rest. 

Only 19% of EMEA organisations IDC surveyed are Data Thrivers. 30% are Beginners, and 51% are Explorers, as illustrated in figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Stages of maturity in the data-driven journey. Source: IDC’s EMEA Data-Driven Intelligence Enterprise Survey, 2021.
To find out where your organisation stands on being data-driven, take the IDC Data-driven Enterprise Benchmark Assessment.

What does data-driven mean?

Data-driven refers to the process of making decisions informed by data and the value derived from the data, rather than relying on assumptions or fads. Data-driven means that data analysts and data scientists move from a supportive role to a strategic role, and barriers between silos are removed to allow data sharing, quality, and precision.

To find out where your organisation stands on being data-driven, take the IDC Data-driven Enterprise Benchmark Assessment.

Are there benefits to becoming a data-driven organisation?

Data-driven organisations use insights derived from data to gain a competitive advantage, make better decisions, and accelerate growth. Studies show that 90% of organisations with top-tier data cultures either achieved or exceeded their revenue goals over the last 12 months. A data-driven culture can help improve customer experience and even anticipate market needs with the help of Machine Learning (ML) & Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. Some examples include delivering mass personalisation at scale, dynamic pricing or pricing optimisation, risk mitigation, and addressing regulations and compliance.

What are the challenges in the data-driven transformation journey?

Becoming data-driven requires both socio-cultural and technical transformation. Data has the power to make or break an organisation’s digital future. The fundamental principles for success as a data-first organisation are how an organisation turns data into insights, how it makes these insights available to business decision-makers, and how the data is governed and secured.

Organisations report challenges with:

  • Complex environment caused by the massive number of data sources
  • Legacy databases or data warehouses
  • Lack of automation or augmentation
  • Slow processes that affect decision velocity

There are three key areas that need focus:

  • Develop a data culture across the organisation
  • Use of Cloud, Machine Learning (ML), Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Data governance, monitoring and quality
Figure 2: Key areas of focus for a data-driven organisation

Organisations that embark on this complex journey can benefit from selecting a strategic data technology partner with the right expertise and a proven track record of success.

How to choose the right Data Technology Partner?

To become data-driven, organisations must have complete control over several factors across the data strategy, data for business, and data foundation dimensions. According to IDC, by collaborating with an experienced data technology provider, organisations can tap into the provider’s expertise to co-create the strategy, assess strengths and weaknesses, set priorities, and design a custom path to becoming data-driven.

So, what’s the key criteria for a Data Partner?

Here’s a list of questions to ask when looking for a partner, even if the technologies are only used by business teams (“data for business” dimension):

  • Does the partner bring experience and a rich portfolio of data foundation technologies that align with your cloud & data strategy vision?
  • Does the partner give you the flexibility and integration expertise to enable you to progress at your pace and on your terms?
  • Can the partner deliver full-stack capabilities to enable you to remove complexities and management overheads and focus more on developing new data products, improving security and quality, and empowering data teams?
  • Is the partner continuously innovating and engineering new capabilities? Is the technology foundation future-ready, and does it enable you to add accelerators such as AI and ML, real-time search capabilities, and data mesh architectures as you go along? 
  • Does the partner have a stellar reputation for delivering continuous support, transparency and cost optimisation?

What non-technical criteria should a data partner have?

Non-technical criteria are just as significant as technical ones. The following criteria should be included in the checklist:

  • Credibility and track record in helping organisations become data-driven.
  • The presence of strong data stewards and talented teams that can work closely with your internal team to co-create success.
  • Ability to help you in adjacent areas such as developing skills and culture, identifying novel use cases, breaking down silos of teams and data platforms, and aligning data foundation to business outcomes.

What else should you consider for your data transformation journey?

Last but not least, any organisation that embarks on the data-driven transformation journey should consider the following aspects:

  • Detect the shifts that technology brings to the table and be clear about what that will bring you
    • The big vendors often bring a vision of tomorrow’s market in addition to their technologies, which is critical to understand, especially in the cultural shift they defend.
    • Choosing a technology partner at any given moment also means choosing a long-term vision, and joining a new community of experts, customers and partners.
  • Understand what other customers say about a potential partner
    • Customers who have already deployed a solution can give feedback on the non-explicit: how easy it was to get up to speed, how is the relationship with the post-sales team, and if the partner has the necessary resources.
    • Existing customers can confirm whether the vendor’s promise and vision have become reality.
  • Understand the impact on the ecosystem
    • A potential partner has other technology partners.
    • When you choose a partner, you enter a partner ecosystem.
  • Place your partners on a map
    • Be aware of the balance of power in the ecosystem.
    • What is the roadmap of your hyperscaler?
    • What are the commercial, marketing and technological relationships between this ecosystem?

In conclusion

Organisations need a solid understanding of the value of data for business opportunities and harness the power of that data to unleash innovation. The data-driven future is bright for organisations that “get” this and make it a core priority for their digital future. Choosing the Data Technology Partner that is the right fit for you is one of the key decisions on your journey to becoming a data-driven organisation.

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