Author is Ranjit Rajagopalan.

Throughout history, new technologies have always altered business models. But right now these models are experiencing change in a faster and more fundamental way than ever before. Social, mobile, data and its associated disciplines, as well as the pervasiveness of the cloud, have seriously disrupted business value chains.

To stay relevant, business leaders have to understand and adapt to today’s new technologies, particularly those that offer fast and frictionless service and a hyper-personalised experience. Those organisations that don’t will be left to play catch up.

And all of today’s new technologies have one thing in common: a need for raw information.

For data.

The importance of data-driven culture

A strong data ecosystem grants an organisation greater speed and agility, and thus a competitive edge. Through data, a business can make better decisions, reduce the cost of capital and improve asset utilisation.

But the use of data needs to be tempered. New consumer data rights (CDR) regulations are about to be enforced in finance and a number of other industries. Privacy regulations such as the GDPR are also resulting in a number of changes to how data is being secured. While restrictive in some sense, these changes will democratise the data and lead to a new generation of product offerings.

Data will play an ever more complex and important role in every organisation. For the potential of data to truly be realised, its use needs to form a part of an organisation’s DNA. Data success demands a data-driven culture.

Data will soon be the difference between an organisation’s success and failure if it isn’t already. Leaders have the responsibility to look for opportunities and prepare for technological challenges, while also having a good understanding of the regulatory framework in which the business operates. By fostering a data-driven culture, the responsibility for these things can be spread, and the likelihood of success can therefore increase.

How to encourage a data-driven culture

The best way to build a culture of data is to normalise the use of data by embedding it into all aspects of the business value chain:

  • Decision-making: Create structured and standardised processes and clear KPIs, and ensure that they are pervasive across the business.
  • Product offerings:Leverage data in innovative ways to develop your product offerings. Use data to differentiate.
  • Process automation: Replace traditional processes with automation and agile ways of working. Encourage upskilling, and focus on high-value initiatives.
  • Customer Focus: Use data to get a 360-degree view of customers. Harness data to acquire and retain the right customers, and offer value-added and personalised services through the customer lifecycle.

In order for a data-driven culture to succeed, management must show long-term vision. Most successful initiatives are products of thorough foresight and a willingness to learn and adopt new technologies.

On the flip side, short-term initiatives that are meant to address specific problem areas rarely yield long term benefits.

How CGI keeps pace through upskilling

In addition to a thorough learning and development program, including a devoted leadership learning centre, CGI has a number of initiatives to upskill leaders and members in new and changing data-driven technologies.

CGI has established a number of Emerging Technology Practices (ETPs), both at the local and global level. The sole aim of these practises is to provide exposure to the latest technologies. The current areas of focus are IoT/intelligent automation, advanced analytics, cybersecurity and cloud technologies.

A favourite of mine is the Innovation, Creativity and Experimentation (ICE) initiative, where members are provided with a platform to pitch their innovative ideas and seed funding is provided to incubate those with value.

The ever-increasing importance of data

The only constant in today’s tech industry is the exponentially accelerating rate of change. And as technologies continue to develop, and the reliance on data continues to increase, the only way that organisations will be able to keep up with these changes is by upskilling and developing their people.

And I’m happy to say that at CGI, we’re doing all that we can to ensure our people are ready for what the future holds.

I'm curious to hear from those in the tech space – how have new technologies impacted your workplace? And is there a concerted effort to make your workplace culture more data-driven?