Ask 100 business leaders what their organization’s 2022 goals are, and you’ll likely get 100 unique responses (if not more)—depending on their industry, company size, and many other factors. But some aspirations are at the top of everyone’s list—and have been for years—no matter what kind of organization they are or what industry they’re in.
One example? Becoming a “data-driven organization.”
Why do business leaders see this as an important goal? Because you can’t be a digital business without being data-driven, and becoming a digital business is how you compete and win in today’s world. To transform traditional operating models—using digital strategies, tools, and ways of working—you need the right data pipeline, infrastructure, culture, and strategy (as well as a digital mindset).
But what exactly should all of that should look like within an organization? That’s the million-dollar question. There’s a reason “being data-driven” has remained on every organization’s wish list for so long: It sounds and feels somewhat nebulous, in part because building true data maturity takes more than deploying analytics and technology platforms. You also need to weave data throughout your entire operating model. That means you need to:
Have the right data—think quality, not quantity—and be able to access it
Know the right data to listen to (as well as what data to ignore) in any given scenario
Use data to frame decisions and build products and processes faster and more iteratively
Form a culture in which data fluency is pervasive, rather than siloed within certain roles or tied to specific skills
Leverage data to drive business results and solve challenges
Create a data-enabled runway to experimentation and innovation
These initiatives aren’t boxes you can check off. And they don’t happen instantaneously. But don’t let that discourage you. Just as we believe becoming digital is a never-ending process, we think becoming a data-driven business isn’t a goal you should ever consider “finished”—because you should never stop trying to improve your organization using data.
That means you can start where you are and tackle your goals in an agile fashion: by using data to select the best use cases, then creating and iterating the data-enabled digital strategies, processes, and practices that will amplify business results. This allows your organization to nab quick wins and drive ongoing transformation while building digital mastery.
For an example of what that looks like in practice, here’s a story about one of our clients.
A financial services firm was mandated by its board to improve organic growth. The primary stakeholders knew they had to find a way to make their sales team more effective. But they weren’t sure where to start, or what a solution might look like.
After the company engaged West Monroe, we worked to identify opportunities to boost organic growth—analyzing their own data to look for clues. That data showed us the biggest area of opportunity, and thus where to start: the company’s existing customers, who were ripe for cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
That’s how we realized the company needed to arm the sales team with data. And, because customer preferences and needs are always changing, we knew the data that the team used had to evolve over time alongside the customer.
Working across siloes in multidisciplinary teams, we ideated, built, tested, and deployed a new machine-learning model. The model hands the sales teams the right data—where and when they need it—by pushing a set of product recommendations to their CRM tool, Salesforce.
So the financial services company didn’t have to completely transform its entire operating model, or even one individual team’s operating model, to improve organic growth. Instead, we helped the company transform organic growth itself, by changing the way people work and engage with customers—using a new digital process that adds value to an existing operating process. How, exactly, did we do it? By:
And the best part? The model also allows teams to provide feedback on the recommendations that lead to additional work, as well as which are less successful. This continuously adds more (and more precise) data to the model, and accounts for any change in customer needs or preferences. That means the model will actually become better and more valuable over time—thanks to a continuous cycle of fresh data that will enable continuous process improvements.
We believe organizations should never stop trying to elevate their business through digital strategies and processes. It’s how you make smarter decisions, discover new opportunities, build better products and experiences, and create continuous value for customers.
Above all, being digital is how you add value to everything you do: customer interactions, operations, products and experiences, and more. And you can’t be digital without data—because the relationship between data and digital is what leads to true transformation.