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Home » Digital Transformation » Digital transformation is more human powered than data driven

Alan Jacobson

Chief Data and Analytics Officer, Alteryx

Tangible business transformation comes from investing in data analytics and empowering employees to deliver change says, analytic process automation experts, Alteryx.

Every industry in every country is undergoing digital transformation, but organisations only truly transform when their business processes are changed, frequently beyond recognition.

Alan Jacobson, chief data and analytics officer at business process automation specialists Alteryx, says the businesses that use data analytics at the start of their transformation journey gain a competitive advantage because the changes are noticeable and have impact.

“If a process has been really transformed, you typically can’t recognise it anymore,” he says. “For example, in a big city, we used to stand on the curb and raise our arm to hail a cab, now we use an app. The process looks different and the change is transformational.”

Data-driven transformation

Jacobson says business processes can either be optimised or radically disrupted, but many organisations still wrongly associate digital transformation purely with automation technology. In reality, it is when the people who own the process are open to changing it with data-driven approaches that real change happens and return on investment improves.

“While transformation strategies are not one-size-fits-all, unifying data, analytic processes, and people with the right technology is a core driver of successful transformation.”

If workers have the right technologies that are easy to use, combined with access to the data, magic can happen.

Whether it’s Gymshark predicting the best location for a pop-up event, or a company like Sellafield predicting the contents of nuclear waste containers using machine learning and analytics to help the national government utilise spatial mapping to visualise all nuclear decommissioning work in the UK over the next 40 years, these new practices are entirely different than the prior. This makes you a leader in your industry.

“Many processes have been transformed over time, such as the assembly line and the printing press, so it’s unsurprising analytics technologies are having similar impacts today on business automation.”

Data culture

Organisations only achieve effective data-driven transformation when they promote an analytics culture. This means bringing everyone in the company along on the journey by democratising data, providing access to one centralised platform, and amplifying human intelligence so anyone can solve complex data science challenges.

“It’s those closest to a process who know where the problems are and can harvest business-critical insights to drive change.”

Additionally, having a data science team to teach and ask the right questions encourages a culture of data literacy. It empowers and incentivises employees to make data-led changes where they see opportunities.

Jacobson says employees must have access to the valuable data needed and be empowered to ask business-relevant questions and obtain swift answers without relying on highly trained data professionals – quickly making informed decisions that benefit the bottom line.

“If workers have the right technologies that are easy to use, combined with access to the data, magic can happen.”

So much data is held across organisations, yet only when they empower their workforce to affect business-change with data will their digital transformation initiatives deliver. Most importantly, only by making all data work collaborative, and relevant insights seamlessly (and securely) accessible to relevant parts of the organisation, will businesses fast-track their digital transformation journey. 

Top tips:

1) Democratise data and analytics: Provide access to one accessible, centralised platform, so analytics can be transformed into an asset to inform business.
2) Educate and train your employees: Provide the right data analytics technology and training to those subject matter experts who have a feel for what is right and workable.
3) Encourage a culture of analytics: Are you asking the right questions to enable transformation and do your employees feel empowered to use analytics to change current processes?
4) Invest in your data ecosystem: Spend time and money cleaning your data and engineering processes to collect the right data and generate actionable business insights.
5) Find a problem to solve: Consider which processes are less effective than they could be and how a data analytics-led transformation might bring business benefits.

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