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Data-driven transformation - how to disrupt the market by becoming agile




As a business leader, if you want to compete with new agile players, you need to capitalize on your current assets, your business data. This is your competitive advantage. Improving data utilization is a way to overcome the competition and improve your business.


Utilize your existing assets

The common mantra is that every mature company is in risk of being replaced by new agile players. Have you ever considered why this is so?

I think it is because the new players provide better customer experience and for this reason attract Customers.

I have discussed Customer experience and how to improve it in a previous article From siloed IT systems to superior Customer Experience.

As a mature player on the market, you have two major competitive advantages:

  • Existing customer base
  • Data created by your current business

These give you an unprecedented advantage over the newcomers. Why don’t you capitalize on this?


“My shoes are too tight, and I’ve forgotten how to dance”

You cannot own the market. You cannot own your customers. Your customers go where they want to if they have a viable alternative.

Your task as a business leader is to make your company be their #1 alternative.

Customers have always gone to the best customer experience. The best product does not always win. Sometimes the price is a big part of the experience, but sometimes other issues such as customer experience make a difference.

What makes it more challenging is that the trends of what makes ‘a good experience’ change over time and with the market. What was good yesterday may be perceived as bad tomorrow.

A new company with a history of only fresh and attractive customer experience easily attracts customers, since they can be differentiated from other existing players. And they do not have an ancient image or history as their burden.

Why can’t mature companies provide the same customer experience?

I think they could – and they want to, but as an organization they cannot.

A well-known phrase describes this: ‘My shoes are too tight, and I’ve forgotten how to dance’.

I mean that mature companies are disabled in terms of re-engineering their whole business process,  especially the IT and data architecture supporting it.

Let me explain this.


Why do you need to transform?

The key business advantage of most agile and new business transforming players is their efficient data handling and entire business process being built to be driven by the data.

What prevents a mature company from doing the same?

My experience is that in most cases mature companies

  • Do not know what exact data they produce during their business process
  • Do not know what data is correct and what is derived from incorrect sources
  • Do not know what the value of existing or missing data for their business is.
  • They have learned to overcome, e.g. possible missing data issues by manual labor, since they have had to do so to make it this far
  • Their organizational structure has grown too big to fit their dancing shoes
    • Different process phases are owned by various people, making tactical level decisions to become strategic level always when a change requires multiple executives to decide upon it
  • They have forgotten how to do the agile dancing of transforming their business

The fact is also that mostly newcomers utilize ‘try fast & fail fast’ business culture – they can do so when they do not need to think about risking their existing customer experience. Their decisions are not based on safe facts and risk-free plans. They are ready to take risks.

How can you compete with them?


Learn to dance with the right-sized shoes

One way is to transform your existing business or parts of it the same way the newcomers do.

A mature business can also become data-driven. This can be done with

  • executive level commitment and budget for long-term transformation
  • agile project culture
  • data governance throughout data lifecycle

All business transformation initiatives require executive level commitment and drive. A secured budget for the current development cycle is also essential with long-term commitment, allowing short-term falls when you try to learn to dance. All of us would still be crawling if we were not committed to learning to walk.

I encourage all development to be done in the agile ‘mode 2’ way, improving fast and step-by-step, with continuous improvement approach, and one business case at a time. Take a single customer in focus first and, once it works, spread the good experiences to the next customers while managing the business impact. You keep your existing business in ‘mode 1’, as it is. You run two businesses side by side.

This way you ensure that your existing business is not risked with these radical changes. My learning also shows that it is the easy way to transform your existing organization and your valuable people to the new way of working.


Focus on data

The real change is in how your business handles data. Once your data architecture (as part of data governance practices) is reshaped, you can start improving your process tools to utilize the existing cross-process data, develop new digital tools and applications.

With data governance and data utilization practices, you can capitalize on your existing assets. This is something that newcomers do not have.

This is your competitive advantage. Make it count.

To help our customers in re-engineering their business, we at Enfo have a co-creational methodology to discover the data lifecycle throughout the business process. The data lifecycle is used to identify where different data is created, refined, used, shared or stored.

We will also discover where the data could be utilized more to improve your business or to create new opportunities. Once the data-driven capabilities and opportunities are recognized, they can be exploited with modern “digital applications”. (I think they are just standard applications, but people seem to want to see them called digital, for some reason.)

From all these data-driven facts together with the business development ambitions, we create the data architecture and business data model with data strategy for the business.

With the data governance, data strategy and utilization practices defined, the business can be turned into a data-driven shaper of markets.


Jarkko Jormanainen works as a business development manager at Enfo
+358 50 327 6193