To do more with data, get curious and intentional

Martin Walker Hanna Berg

By Martin Walker, Hanna Berg

Every successful organisation knows that data, when used in the right way, equals value. Delving into data can increase revenue, minimise costs, and improve strategic decisions. Even more so, when optimised by the cloud.

To move from digital to intelligent, organisations need to become truly data-driven. Cloud-based solutions – especially when powered by increasingly accessible artificial intelligence (AI) tools – are helping organisations do more with data. But while expectations are high, they don’t always match up with reality. To understand current digital maturity levels and what it takes to become truly data-driven, we surveyed 30 executive managers and digital leaders in cross-industry enterprises across Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. We mapped their attitudes towards data and assessed their investment in data-driven infrastructure. To seek deeper insights, we conducted in-depth interviews with Nordic data experts.

The results were stark. While organisations expect to benefit from advanced technologies and data tools, they aren’t taking the necessary steps to get there. To increase data maturity across all industries and markets, organisations need to get curious and intentional.

Our research uncovers four recommendations to help organisations make their data aspirations real:

1. Evaluate less, do more

The only way to start is to start. But organisations in the Nordics, and the rest of the world, can be wary about taking those first and all-important steps. Some of the factors holding them back include uncertainty around legislation changes (for example, Schrems II), believing they lack the right tools and talent, and obsessive research into data management solutions. However, across our 30 Nordic respondents, there is no correlation between business value and specific data management and storage solutions – suggesting that it’s better to spend less time researching, and more time doing.

Rather than expending time and energy on assessing different platforms and providers, get the ball rolling. With the right safety guardrails in place, you can embed an iterative, repeatable process, and create an environment that allows for experiments. For example, in our work with a Danish financial regulator, we co-developed a robust three-year cloud transformation strategy and defined a set of trend-informed principles for the financial industry to support cloud adoption and ongoing experimentation.

2. Empower your people

Technology and tools are only as good as the people that use them. It’s up to employees to utilise tools and systems effectively, and it’s up to leaders to model the right behaviours and put the necessary training mechanisms in place.

Our results prove the importance of attitude. To encourage the right attitude across teams, people need to understand why new data management tools are being adopted, how they are applied, and what the benefits are. Identifying data champions to lead the charge will increase uptake. Incorporating data analysis tools into routine tasks will also improve familiarity, taking data work from novel to norm. For example, we created a Data Enablement Enterprise Programme for a major utilities provider, maximising effectiveness by helping our client to train employees to use data in day-to-day work.

3. Invest in cloud

Across our 30 respondents, cloud strategies are mixed – 30 percent have legacy on premises solutions, 48 percent have hybrid cloud solutions, and 22 percent have fully cloud infrastructures. In the next three years, the percentage of respondents who expect to use fully cloud solutions shifts to 37 percent. On top of this, the majority of respondents using entry-level analytics believe they’ll use more advanced approaches in future, but tend to stick to what they know rather than invest in new solutions. To get to where they want to be, they need to invest.

To invest in cloud, begin with non-personal data to limit risks associated with GDPR. Understand your real data risks, and put in place clear guidelines around what you can and can’t do. Get started, then scale. We’ve helped a global pharma company to do just that, replacing outdated legacy IT infrastructure with industry-leading technology to reduce major service outages and cut annual IT costs by 30 percent.

4. Share your data

Data doesn’t just have value for the organisation it sits within. By sharing and selling their data, organisations can identify opportunities to maximise value and help insights to go further. Sharing data increases value across all levels and sectors, as demonstrated by the open data movement. By increasing the reach of data insights, open data helps organisations (both public and private) and society by fuelling economic growth, the creation of new data roles, and societal progress.

Sharing and selling data externally also encourages organisations to audit, structure, and classify useful data. This is a cost-saving exercise in itself, because fixing bad quality data is expensive. Cleaning dirty data takes time and energy, pulling data scientists away from more valuable analysis. Preparing data for an external audience eases future data management tasks and embeds good practice.

Choose a curious future

The above recommendations apply to all industries and global markets, providing unshakeable foundations for success. Each recommendation can be achieved following a set of clear steps, which are detailed in our report.

The most data-driven, digitally mature organisations try new things. They’re willing to invest in new data solutions, and their curious attitude maximises return on investment by identifying opportunities and strengthening data strategies. The implication is clear. Choose a curious future, invest in new solutions, and maximise data maturity.

Woman presenting data on a large screen.

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Curious and intentional

Curious and intentional

Our exclusive research shows how Nordic organisations are investing in data-driven success.

About the authors

Martin Walker
Martin Walker PA data management and financial services expert
Hanna Berg
Hanna Berg PA data science expert

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