Digital transformation is creating opportunities for innovation across all industries. Whether a company is leveraging software robots, AI or other applications to digitize and improve their processes, there’s one element at the core of every transformational project: data.
What’s more, these transformations are enabling digital businesses to act more efficiently and effectively than their competitors. But while we often think of the improved results seen from digital transformation projects as being brought about by technological evolution, traditional enterprises cannot even begin to take advantage of technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) or artificial intelligence (AI) without having clean, quality content and a data strategy to govern it.
Why data is the heart of digital transformation
Digital transformation involves integrating technology into business processes, with a goal to revolutionize end-to-end processes: everything from internal operations to the customer’s experience. But while the means and objectives of various digital transformation projects will vary across initiatives, companies and industries, there is one thing common to these digital business endeavors: success depends upon access to high-quality data.
Whether it’s spotting a cluster of traits that identifies a car insurance applicant as a particularly risky prospect, a program that increases the speed and accuracy of entering the profiles of new banking clients across systems, or software that helps healthcare administrators more efficiently identify files that contain personally identifiable information (PII) to meet compliance requirements, technology is helping businesses to perform complex and often time-consuming tasks better than in the past. Though these tasks might seem to be quite different on the surface, in each instance, a steady stream of clean, easily utilizable content and sound data governance strategies are vital precursors to achieving results.
Common data roadblocks
If you think about how organizational data is generated and stored (oftentimes in data silos), it may very well be that messiness is the nature of data itself. The fact that 80 percent of data is unstructured – meaning that it exists in formats that can’t be readily utilized such as emails, images and scanned documents – suggests that data governance roadblocks are commonly occurring across companies and industries.
Some common roadblocks include:
While data privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA and HIPAA subject PII to special treatment, the roadblocks above can make it difficult for organizations to accurately assess their PII footprint and address it accordingly. Unidentified PII that has not been appropriately cordoned off is a major corporate risk that will only continue to grow.
While digital businesses may naturally avoid or overcome some roadblocks more easily than their legacy counterparts, no one is unscathed. For example, while companies born in the digital-business era typically possess significantly less paper-based content – a legacy issue for some older businesses – they may have data silos between departments or other problems.
Conquering data roadblocks
Fortunately, there is a common solution to all of these data roadblocks: an effective data strategy. For too long, businesses have taken an ad hoc approach to data management, which is how we got to such high levels of unstructured data.
To conquer these common roadblocks – and start seeing results from digital transformation projects – organizations must take steps to improve the visibility and accessibility of their data stores, right across business lines. This includes developing a data strategy to illuminate so-called “dark data” and obliterate data silos, digitizing documents and determining their contents, classifying information and weeding out useless clutter, and ensuring data is in machine-ready formats.
But getting a handle on existing data only solves half the problem. Businesses must also put in place holistic processes to stay on top of new data as it is generated.
It’s safe to say that anything standing in the way of organized, accessible data is also standing in the way of a successful digital transformation. To start reaping the benefits of innovation and compete in a digital landscape, businesses must take steps to resolve any of the common data roadblocks they are experiencing.