The idea of Digital Transformation (“DT”) is a powerful one- the technological tools of modernity can be used to transform, enhance, and improve current business processes while spurring the introduction of entirely new ways to transact and experience.  That both work and personal lives are fundamentally infused with and inflected by technology is testament to the sorts of transformations that have occurred, whether by design or simply by default. 

While organizations invest hundreds of billions of dollars in DT- realizing its benefits differentially—another “DT” is often overlooked- Data Transformation.  Perhaps a closer look at the second “DT” would serve an important purpose. 

Data has been heralded as the driver of the new economy.  From analogies likening the importance of data to that of oil, to countless articles extolling the virtues of data-driven strategies and the power of data-science, we cannot overstate the central role data plays in the modern organization.  To understand this is to grasp data in its basic form.  Information, when organized in some “readable” form, provides the motive force for both value and advantage.  In a complex world in which every decision can be subject to multivariate analysis, the role of data in augmenting both humans’ and machines’ ability to support and make these decisions more effective is key; any organization that doesn’t accept this, and plan accordingly, will have a hard time over the long term.

As with everything, the “stance” an organization has towards data cannot be static over time and space.  Just as it is well known that investment strategies have to change with the times, that new technologies have to be deployed and old ones obsoleted, that innovative ways of motivating people have to be developed, so too does data strategy have to be amended.  Thus “Data Transformation” has to be understood as paramount.

The second “DT” traverses infrastructure, culture, collaboration, and investment focus.  As we’ve written before, Data Infrastructure is crucial- for SMBs and Enterprises alike.  But the infrastructure is not sufficient.  Without a clearly defined culture, a healthy collaboration between data experts and data users, and a clear investment prioritization of Data Transformation, organizations will slowly find their agility and advantage eroding.

With everything, but with Data specifically, rigidity and stasis bode ill.  New data is produced constantly and much of it is relevant to downstream decisions.  Data infrastructure and data culture alike have to be assimilative enough to absorb new data and to put it to use.

Data Transformation is a partnership between people and technology.  We believe that this transformation is integral to the success of Digital Transformation and that focus on it is a critical element as organizations plan for the future. 

Written mutually with Romi Mahajan, CEO KKM Group