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How to prepare for the data-driven future


ARTICLE | October 12, 2023

Authored by RSM US LLP


To stay competitive, grow opportunities and ensure the security of their data and proprietary information, leadership teams need to make data-driven decisions. But without robust data, strategic growth is limited.

As a midsize organization, how can you be sure that you’re collecting the right data quickly enough—and that you’re getting the most out of analyzing it? The answer lies in how you approach your digital transformation.

If you’re seeking to upgrade your on-premises and legacy systems, you’re in an ideal position to take advantage of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and predictive analytics to support data collection, visualization and analysis. In addition, technology can help you attract top talent, improve employee experience, and provide greater security and data access.

The following five actions help ensure that your organization’s digital transformation will empower your continued growth.

1

If your organization thinks about technology in terms of low-cost or point solution tools, it’s time to think about following an entirely new path. What your company should consider is a data-driven mindset, where data isn’t the product, but rather the fuel for intelligent decision-making. This will require a more modern technology stack and possibly a higher initial price tag, but it will pay off in terms of real value that can drive growth in a way that data itself simply can’t.

The process begins not just with management buy-in but also a commitment from leaders to seek out tools that both optimize processes and capture accurate data. This level of organizational change requires a cross-functional project team that understands the essential data points needed to run the business and what truly actionable KPIs are, then can trace that information back to the date entry and data capture stages. Look for champions within each business unit who can create enthusiasm for a truly transformative solution.

2

Without question, the cloud is one of the most important business technology megatrends. Even the largest enterprises are in the public cloud, whether they’re hosting their own proprietary systems or utilizing an ecosystem of SaaS solutions that outperform legacy on-premises solutions.

In the cloud, data can flow more freely across functional silos, and it’s easier to integrate multiple datasets, including streaming data, to enrich forecasts and decision-making intelligence. You’ll also have access to an entire ecosystem of third-party applications, including data analytics and visualization solutions to further enhance your data-driven decision-making.

What’s more, moving legacy servers to the cloud reduces capital expenses and unpredictable maintenance expenses in favor of more predictable operational expenses. You’ll see improved reliability and availability without the worry of managing or maintaining the infrastructure yourself, and you’ll get the latest software version automatically without downtime. Finally, unlike on-premises servers, cloud services can scale smoothly with you as you grow. 

3

To help your business flourish, you need technology that you can grow into. Instead of point solutions to handle different functions such as accounting, HR and supply chain, consider a modern cloud-native enterprise resource planning system that can encompass all these solutions using a single data pool.

This not only ensures that your data is more consistent and accurate, but it also makes that data more readily available for analytics without the need for manual migration, aggregation and transformation. The longer these processes take, the less agile your business will be. In addition, modern enterprise systems include (or can be connected to) the latest in AI- and ML-driven analytics and visualizations so you can make smarter decisions faster.

4

Having your applications and data in the cloud offers enormous opportunities to bring sophisticated analytics into your decision-making processes. Cloud providers offer massive computing power—including infrastructure and tools designed specifically for AI—and essentially unlimited storage, so you can build huge data warehouses and crunch that data for rich, real-time analytics. In addition, the cloud opens you up to a wealth of public or commercial datasets that you can combine with your internal data to add additional context that will improve predictions and forecasts.

Many enterprise systems and third-party solutions can streamline and automate data collection, often by employing AI and robotic process automation. This greatly reduces the repetitive manual tasks that leave your employees disengaged and take resources from more strategic work. As a result, you’ll find it easier to attract and retain top talent looking to work with the latest technology. 

5

The security of your data is essential, but it’s also a moving target. Data security and governance regulations are getting stricter, malicious actors are growing increasingly sophisticated, and the financial consequences in terms of fines, reputational damage or ransom demands continue to rise. 

Therefore, incorporate security from the beginning of your data-centric strategy. You’ll be better prepared to scale your data and analytics efforts without compromising its safety. Bear in mind that in all likelihood, keeping data on premises is likely to be riskier than keeping it in the cloud. Cloud providers have a vested interest in ensuring data security, and they can keep their (and your) systems up to date with the latest patches to keep out intruders.

Cloud-native solutions also make it easier to adopt a zero-trust system that no longer relies on a corporate (trusted) network but rather enforces access controls based on identity, behavior and contextual evidence, continuously ensuring that users have access only to the data they’re authorized to use.

Preparing for the data-driven future

Becoming a data-driven organization isn’t something that happens overnight. It starts with a mindset that technology reduces the time spent on essential but non-revenue producing tasks, and it transforms transactional and other data into insights that drive decision-making on a daily basis.

With the right digital road map for your business, you can more easily leverage technology and data to drive business decisions and better understand and serve your customers.

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This article was written by RSM US LLP and originally appeared on 2023-10-12.
2022 RSM US LLP. All rights reserved.
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