Digital Transformation Requires a Data Foundation

by Donna Burbank, Managing Director, Global Data Strategy, Ltd.

“Digital Transformation” has been top of mind for many organizations in recent years. Now, most are coming to terms with the fact that this Digital Transformation needs to occur more rapidly than they had expected. As business moves nearly completely online and organizations launch or rethink their digital journey, many quickly realize that a strong data foundation is needed in order to support digital success.  Unfortunately, this data foundation is often not in a state robust enough to rapidly enable a digital business model.

Any digital presence requires quality, curated data that is readily consumable at the speed of business. For example, let’s consider an online retail organization.  In order to sell products online, a robust product catalog is needed that can be rapidly accessed via the web. In data terms, this requires product master data that is structured in a way that is easily searchable by consumers, and readily accessible by the applications publishing to the web site. Customer data must be up-to-date and accurate with not only valid shipping addresses, but digital contact mechanisms such as email and text. Customer support must be data-enabled, ideally via AI-driven applications such as chat bots to support increasing demand.  And the data-centric list goes on…

As a recent digital success story, we recently worked with a health care organization that relied heavily on in-person, face-to-face therapy sessions as a critical pillar in serving their patients, as well as driving revenue for the organization. Suddenly faced with the need to move 100% of their work online, they needed to rapidly switch to a tele-health model in order to not only “keep the lights on” in terms of revenue but, arguably more importantly, to serve their high-risk clients who were in urgent need of mental and physical health services.  Because they had created a strong data foundation, they were able to rapidly move to a telehealth model within a single week. What supported this rapid transformation? In the past years, this organization had placed a strong value and focus on data and had established the following key pillars of their data foundation:

  • Data Governance: creating a strong, business-led initiative in which data-centric decisions could be raised, enabling fast, decisive action.
  • Data Quality: ensuring that patient data was up-to-date and accurate
  • Master Data Management: creating a consistent, high-quality set of critical data for patients, providers, and staff that was easily consumed by all systems.
  • Business Intelligence and Analytics: leveraging their core data warehouse to provide rapid reporting to management for patient distribution, support coverage, and critical patient needs.

The Data team was instrumental in this effort and were recognized as key enablers to this business transformation. The CEO, in her weekly letter to the organization stated “I love data!  It’s been instrumental in getting us through this recent crisis.”  This is a perfect testament to the ability of a data professional to have a significant impact on the success of the organization and the people it serves.

If you are a data professional whose organization is looking to transform to a more digital way of working, now is a great time to have a larger voice for change. Look for some key data areas that can enable a move to digital, whether this be product, customer, patient, or other business-critical data.  How can this data be leveraged to support a new way of working? How can the foundation you’ve built be used for success? It is a great time to be a data professional and you have a unique opportunity to help drive positive change. Best of luck in your data and digital journey.

If you have further questions about enabling a digital organization through data, you can reach Donna at .