Accelerating digital transformation with effective data infrastructure

Last year, the Government’s UK Digital Strategy outlined how committed it is to keeping the country at the leading edge of new developments. Finding innovative uses for data in government and business, strengthening data skills provision, and establishing legal frameworks to keep pace with new digital technologies.

While this is a good place to start, the challenge for organisations is that they analyse just 12% of their data. With many failing to fully exploit existing data sets that could markedly improve business and government efficiency.

The approach to the collection, management and use of data must be far more strategic, to drive further capabilities, achieve a high level of regulatory compliance, and improve customer service.

>See also: Legacy infrastructure hindering digital transformation of supply chain

The digital enterprise is globally connected. It’s immediately responsive. It’s hugely collaborative. It’s mobile, data-driven and always on. But first, a strong infrastructure for content, process, and data management within the business or government department is required.

If organisations fail to act soon, the costs will only mount. Forrester’s Total Economic Impact 2017 report found that one school had costs of up to $1,500 per report to recreate student profiles that couldn’t be located. But, a financial services firm recreated documents that were in its legacy mainframe system at a cost of $125 per document.

A robust data infrastructure is key to digital transformation.

A business culture review

“Data infrastructure” refers to organisational technology, processes and assets, and the collaborative way in which interconnected parties can share and act upon data.

By strengthening data infrastructures, new opportunities arise for how to use data to help innovate, develop new market-changing products, improve competitive edge, and meet evolving customer demands.

It sounds great in theory, but how do business and government go about creating an effective infrastructure that forms the bedrock of their digital transformation?

It all starts with a mind-set. Businesses must view themselves as a platform and harness the ability to connect people, organisations and resources to their customer base, as well as their suppliers.

>See also: The digital ecosystem: IT infrastructure now on CEO’s agenda

This means breaking down silos that often exist within organisations and allowing seamless collaboration across disparate groups. This is a business culture issue, but technology is key to facilitating consistency and transparency.

The main aim of any digital transformation should be to maximise ‘digital flow’. A state of optimal productivity in which people, processes, and information are connected quickly, intuitively, and effortlessly. This disrupts silos and brings different entities together in an interconnected way that is mutually beneficial, consistently collaborating via touch points across organisational and external boundaries.

As a result, new information moves differently and at an increased rate to old analogue components. While faster and more informed innovations can also be achieved due to the connectivity with customers and suppliers.

Delivering the fastest path for people to interact with information and for companies to respond and scale to changing business needs and growth.

>See also: Digital strategy to digital transformation

Organisations should be also free to make decisions on the location of services and data, based on their business requirements and infrastructure. For most, the decisions between locating their data in-house, or on a private hosted or public cloud are rarely definitive and what is critical is platforms and applications being able to reside in either or all and still be able to interoperate.

Businesses need to be able to share content or business processes with cloud based users (often external to their organisation) on an as-required basis. In this way businesses can take advantage of ubiquitous access benefits of cloud without relinquishing control of their critical information. Open thinking is essential.

Accelerating digital transformation

The deluge of data shows no signs of abating. Managing and extracting intelligence from data that is growing in silos can no longer remain. This information will decrease in value, hamper decision making and increase in risk.

With the right information architecture, organisations can make content and data available, such that every user has everything they need at any time or place. This “platformisation” results in internal functions and users connecting with new capabilities in a seamless, friction-free way.

>See also: The truth about digital transformation: The great workload dilemma

When organisations bring information architecture and processes together, they get the multiplier effect, driving faster delivery, deeper engagement, better accountability and more interconnectedness.

Such open thinking and information stewardship will enable content to be identified, classified, curated, and governed throughout its lifecycle. Thus reducing the risks of data hoarding and enabling business agility.

In other words, a robust data infrastructure flow, driven by fully auditable process management, accelerates digital transformation.

 

Sourced by George Parapadakis, director of Business Solutions Strategy at Alfresco

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.