In our last blog we talked about how businesses are under enormous pressure to reinvent themselves as "digital organisations". and how rather than panic at the prospect of having missed the boat, the best thing you can do is rationalise what digital means for your business and identify the most effective ways it can be leveraged.
In our view the concept of the digital enterprise really comes down to digitising three areas of a business - customer interactions, employee engagement and business operations - with data providing the glue that holds a digital strategy together.
If you want to be digital-centric, you also have to be data-centric.
To become truly data-centric, where data is the glue that binds a company together to realise true digital transformation, you need to embed analytics across every area of the business – sales, marketing, finance, customer service and operations.
Turning data to insight
Data is the life-blood that flows through a digital enterprise, stimulating growth and development, improving the customer experience, empowering employees, while making the business more operationally efficient and profitable.
To get started you need to identify a sweet spot that will deliver the fastest return on investment with minimal disruption. When Storm talks to customers, we look to target the parts of the business that will benefit the most from surfacing previously untapped data.
Where will deeper insights deliver the biggest payback? They might provide the backbone for digital marketing to push a new service, or help identify ways to improve the margin of an existing product line. Maybe more data is needed to improve your customer acquisition processes, or to nurture newfound relationships for cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Whatever the destination, the starting point is the same. To put data analytics at the centre of your business, you need to find a way to leverage your infrastructure and applications to deliver better BI (Business Intelligence).
Working as a Microsoft partner we have seen this first hand, implementing a suite of software solutions where insights are increasingly embedded in applications that employees, customers and partners are already using.
This is a big change. Not so long ago, data was locked up in data warehouses and the IT department were the only people with the keys to turn it into insights. It was up to them to produce reports for the business on a project-by-project basis. A common complaint of a time-consuming process was that the information was out of date by the time it got into the hands of the people who needed it.
Now, a carefully integrated Microsoft stack democratises data and gives insight to the people who need it, when they need it. There are three components that enable this: the database platforms, presentation layers and interactive analytics tools.
Stacks of analysis
SQL Server is the underlying database platform and SharePoint, Power View and Power BI provide the presentation layers, in-memory modelling , interactive data exploration, visualisation and business analytics tools that let users to interrogate data, create reports and share insights.
We take care of the backend complexity, hiding it from end users who can interrogate the data any way they want. The aim is to provide employees with self-service access to their own reports and models, giving them business insights for more informed decision-making.
The beauty of this approach is that many businesses will be leveraging Microsoft products they have already invested in. The latest iterations can be modified and combined to form a powerful platform that supports evidence-based decision-making across the business. What Forrester calls an "insights-to-execution operating model" is now a reality and a big step on the journey to digital transformation.