Building data platforms and analytics is easy. Creating long lasting business impact is not.
To think of things like data, analytics and AI as purely technology is a false conclusion. Yes, the terms themselves are related to technology, but gaining real benefit from these requires so much more than mere technical implementation.
As companies are starting to harness the benefits and disruptive power that utilising data can bring, it is important to get a grasp of what it really takes to transform a business through data.
Our extensive co-operation with sporting goods company Amer Sports has been a learning experience for both parties. Here are five key takeaways from leading the data transformation of an international consumer brand company to help you get started on your data journey.
1. Go where the strategy takes you
Too often data projects are disconnected and scattered. Not because that would be a good situation by anyone’s thinking, but because the IT department and business department do not have a common strategy to follow. Nor do they speak the same language.
A clear vision, strategy or roadmap – whatever you want to call it – will guide the development work towards the right direction. Just make sure that the strategy is understandable to both the business directors and IT developers. The combination of these two departments is a powerful one.
2. Align everything you do with business goals – and measure the results!
What is the business impact your company wants to reach? If that is still unclear to you, you have no reason to start asking the IT department for reports and data. Go back to the drawing board and paint a clear picture of the business goals you want to achieve. Only then can you start the data journey and plan the actions needed to get there.
And what is a goal if you don’t measure it? Do your best to measure the impact of your work. We live in a world of limited resources and that’s why it is important to make the most out of what you have. Only then you can walk up to the company management and show that your work is really paying off.
3. Work agile
Data projects don’t have to take an eternity to get started. It’s quite the opposite.
Agile ways of working can help your team reach measurable results much faster than heavy procedures and traditional ways of working ever could. Your team doesn’t have to be perfect from the get-go, but it does need to learn and iterate along the way.
Appointing a scrum-master to your team is often overlooked option but it is a great way to get started. If you’re not familiar with agile ways of working, get training from experts in the field. This is highly recommended, since it can make all the difference in the efficiency of your data projects.
4. Test new tools and work with the best ones
No perfect tool has ever been made – but there are some really good ones out there! The ones who find the best tools the fastest, and adapt them, will have an advantage over others.
Working with modern tools is a key factor in any successful data project. Leaving behind old and clumsy tools not only makes it more pleasant to work on projects, but it can speed up development while also bringing cost savings. With Amer Sports, Solita’s team was able to change the Azure Data Warehouse to Snowflake database technology just within one quarter, bringing new possibilities for future development.
5. Break down silos and work together
For too long companies have been working in silos. Especially IT departments seem to have suffered from this, since their work can often be hard to understand for many other players in companies.
The way out of this limbo is to simply work more collaboratively by cutting through department barriers all the way to the end-user, your customers. Forming teams with representatives from the marketing department, e-commerce, the data team and the developer team has been the way forward with Solita’s and Amer Sports’ co-operation. This model enables designing and producing end-to-end-solutions within one team.
Turning data into business is the future for successful companies. Working in a smart and agile way with the best tools while meeting the business goals is a lot to ask – but it’s not an impossible trick to pull off. Working with the right partner can take you a long way.
Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash