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Disruption in the data era

August 29, 2018  By Alyssa Dalton

In today’s evolving manufacturing landscape, embracing digital disruption is a fact of business prosperity.

“The mantra at every board level needs to be ‘transform or be transformed,’” says Keven Peesker, President of Microsoft Canada, in an interview with Yvon Audette, Partner and National Leader, IT Advisory at KPMG in Canada. “To remain competitive and to evolve with the customer, organizations need to be thinking about how they can use data as a strategic asset and optimize their operations in new and innovative ways to better engage their customers.”

When it comes to business transformation, Big Data is one of the most significant disruptive advancements manufacturers can, and must, adopt. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire previous history of the world. It estimates by 2020, 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet, and by 2025, the world will produce 163 zettabytes of data a year.

“The data is out there and many organizations are already sitting on decades of operational and customer data to begin with,” Peesker says. “Now, they need to invest in the tools and capabilities to organize that data and pull insights from it that will help businesses understand customer attitudes and behaviours.”

Innovative service models and emerging mobile technologies, Peesker says, are critical in helping business be more customer-focused and optimize their operations. “AI, in particular, will be critical in driving innovation. Through it, technology will become more intuitive, more conversational, and more intelligent, and enable businesses to better know and serve their customers in previously unimaginable ways.”

Disruptive technologies will enable organizations to develop and support new business models, advanced product innovation and holistic customer servitization.

The time to embrace digital disruption is now, according to KPMG’s 2018 Canadian CEO Outlook. The Outlook, released in June, finds Canadian CEOs are “overwhelmingly optimistic” about change, noting 96 percent of survey respondents say they view technological disruption as more of an opportunity than a threat. Comparatively, in the same survey last year, only 74 percent of CEOs were as positive about this disruption.

“There is a reason CEOs want to talk to us about predictive analytics; it’s because they know it is the key to vastly improved decision-making,” writes Shreeshant Dabir, National Lead, Lighthouse KPMG in Canada, and Carl Barrelet, Lighthouse KPMG in Canada.

Describing it as a continuously evolving field, Dabir and Barrelet say analytics help organizations better understand their operations, clientele and market by identifying trends while interpreting the performance of products/services and market position. “Successful businesses are those that leverage and push the boundaries of analytics to attain reliable, predictive insights, unleashing opportunities for operational performance, risk management, and improved customer experience.”

They suggest several ways Canadian CEOs can enhance their data analytics capabilities and improve decision-making. First, organizations must understand what predictive analytics can do. Spend time talking to advisors, startups, incubators and service providers about what they see in the market, they advise, so businesses can assess how and where predictive analytics can improve the business value.

Developing a roadmap that is practical and strategic for digitization is key to embedding analytics into the company culture, Dabir and Barrelet note. In order to make analytics an essential tool, businesses must remove data siloes and scale up analytics successes. They recommend moving the predictive analytics team “down the hall from the executive suite” to provide immediate access to insights while encouraging employees to integrate analytics into their work processes.

As well, organizations should focus on “small yet reliable” data sets. “Instead of spending all your time and resources on gathering as much data as possible, start exploring what data could be telling you and then focus your efforts on finding and curating the right data to support deeper insights,” Dabir and Barrelet write. “The need for good data is much greater now than ever before and your organization needs to have a robust enterprise data strategy in order to deploy intelligent automation at scale.”

Technological advancements will continue to reshape today’s workplaces, allowing organizations to drive operating efficiency and create new, innovative solutions rather than pursue traditional ways of doing business. Dabir and Barrelet estimate within the next three years, all corporate decision-making will be influenced – in some way or another – by predictive analytics.

This editorial was originally published in the July/August 2018 issue of PrintAction, now available online.

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