There is not a single aspect of business today that has remained untouched by digital technologies. A recent survey from Progress found that businesses are beginning to recognize the tremendous importance of implementing a digital strategy, with more than half of respondents reporting that data connectivity and integration are critical components for digital transformation. The survey report, titled “Are Businesses Really Digitally Transforming or Living in Digital Denial?,” polled more than 700 digital decision makers to learn their thoughts on the topic and what their plans are for addressing its challenges.
One of the main drivers for digital transformation reported in the survey was optimizing customer experiences and engagement, with 61 percent of respondents reporting that improving customer experiences is the top priority for organizations in the next 12 months. A recent report from Forrester confirmed this, finding that more than 60 percent of executives identified delivering a superior experience for customers and creating new sources of customer value as important factors in determining an organization’s success as a digital business. These goals aren’t just pipedreams either – organizations are backing this assertion with serious budgetary investment, with half of respondents planning to invest in building applications in the next year that support the customer engagement model.
So what role does data play in achieving these goals through a successful digital transformation? To begin, the data a company collects can be analyzed for insights that help the company personalize its interactions with customers. Data can be used to find trends around a customer’s habits, which is typically indicative of their future interests. Additionally, data collected from customers can be used for sentiment comparison, which shows the company how well or poorly products and experiences are being received. With this information, businesses can more closely target and anticipate their customers’ needs, making the necessary adjustments to improve their offerings and better engage their targeted audience members.
The categorization and analysis of data is also a critical part of a business’ operational efficiency. Along with optimizing customer experiences and engagement, improving efficiency is viewed as a key driver of digital transformation, with just about half of the Progress survey respondents indicating that it is important, if not critical. More than half stated that they need to improve business agility to achieve their business priorities. Fast and effective data connectivity is a necessary tool for these businesses looking to digitally transform as it can enable them to utilize the astounding wealth of data that today’s businesses collect in a meaningful way.
Disparate data sources are often a barrier to organizations looking to make use of their digital content to gain greater business insights. Only a third of those surveyed see themselves as extremely effective in managing and utilizing digital content and channels, and less than a third reported being “extremely confident” in their ability to integrate all data sources and applications. Many organizations have taken to storing data in data lakes, which, put simply, are archives that store a tremendous amount of raw data in its native format (whether structured, unstructured, or semi-structured) for as long as it needs to be held for analysis purposes. However, as the business ingests new types of poly-structured data, it can become increasingly difficult to make sense of it without accessing all of the data stored in the various sources. A data lake can then easily turn into a data swamp if the data continues to amass without having a complete view of the systems in play.
Despite these challenges, gaining business insights through data analysis shouldn’t require an army of data scientists. Businesses need information to be collected and stored in an easily decipherable form they can use to create better applications or refine the customer experience. This can be accomplished through a shift in focus from homogenizing data to providing a homogenous experience for the different people, systems and applications that need to access it. Connectivity solutions are one way to streamline access to data, enabling organizations to focus not only on assembling the data they collect but also understanding it.
Without recognizing the benefits of integrated data sources and the business agility they provide, businesses cannot hope to move forward, improve customer experiences and achieve operational efficiency in today’s digital economy. As a recent report from Forbes Insights shows, it’s proven that when properly applied, data analytics can drive growth and have a significant and positive impact on revenues. A successful digital transformation relies on these analytics; without them, businesses risk financial and competitive consequences. It’s time for businesses to get serious about digital transformation if they want to advance, and to do that, they must begin taking control of their data.
Paul Nashawaty is the Senior Director of Product & Solutions Marketing Strategy at Progress.
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