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Accenture: Data is king in age of disruption

Almost everywhere you look, digitally delivered businesses are on the ascendance – and often to the detriment of traditional players.

We all know about taxi firms and Uber, hotels and Airbnb, and at home in New Zealand we've seen TradeMe and Xero cause huge disruption in their markets.

Digital entrants are unencumbered by legacy processes and systems.

They are quick to form, quick to respond and put the customer at the heart of their experience. Traditional businesses are all too aware of this threat.

Almost 80% of organisations are concerned with disruption and competitive threats, according to a global report by Accenture and HfS Research.

In the battle for market position and growth, data is undoubtedly kingmaker.

International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that, by the end of 2019, revenue growth from information-based products, will be double that of the rest of the product and service portfolio for one in three New Zealand organisations.

Yet the HfS-Accenture report revealed nearly 80% of organisations estimate that 50 to 90% of their data is unstructured – unable to be monetised or mined for insights that could drive profitable business decisions.

So, what is an organisation to do?

The answer lies in Intelligent Operations, a five-pronged approach that positions organisations to extract maximum value from their wealth of data.

This will ensure they can move on the cusp of market trends and provide customers with the seamless and hyper-personalised experience they expect - and in doing so grow new business and profitability.

1. Data directors

Innovative talent is key.

Rather than just keeping the wheels turning, employees will need to apply the right technologies - automation, analytics and artificial intelligence - to data to identify growth opportunities, innovate and nip problems in the bud.

‘Soft' skills and right-brain thinking are essential attributes for jobs of the future, but at the same time organisations do still need talent with strong operational and digital skills.

Securing the right talent requires agile human resource and recruiting practices and strategic partnering to draw on the right resources. Companies will need to adapt to an on-demand workforce, with personnel sought through an open talent marketplace to complete specific projects.

2. Data depots

When faced with the sheer scale of “loose” data, marshalling it into order and then developing new processes and deriving genuine insights from it can seem near-impossible.

But it needs to happen. Nearly three-quarters of New Zealand organisations identified improved knowledge and information management as their number one business objective for 2017 and 2018, according to IDC's New Zealand IT Services Ecosystem 2017 report.

Data will become the lifeblood of organisations in the future. Those that can tame the volume, velocity and variability of data have the best chance of success.

3. Data diggers

The huge impact robotic automation, smart analytics and artificial intelligence individually have in optimising and transforming business operations has long been clear.

But increasingly, these technologies are being used together. As an example, smart analytics are making use of AI tools such as natural language processing to conduct search-driven analytics.

With the right insight, the use of all three technologies together will be truly transformational.

4. Driving your data

The cloud is the ideal engine for Intelligent Operations, enabling better integration of diverse data, saving cost and allowing organisations to quickly scale computing power and applications up and down as needed – ultimately increasing their nimbleness.

More than 25% of New Zealand organisations are already using data-as-a-service solutions, says IDC.

Legacy systems remain a handicap for some. A substantial investment in legacy systems leaves a feeling of a “technology debt” that needs to be repaid, delaying true leveraging of the cloud.

5. Double your data

Smart organisations know they cannot be everything to everyone.

They will develop mutually beneficial relationships in a partnership ecosystem, coming together with other players to exploit market opportunities. Partnerships will provide complementary skill sets, more data and more diverse data.

The outcome will be a continuous evolution and ongoing innovation rather than completion of a one-off project.

The challenges facing enterprises today are more diverse and demanding than ever. Customers expect more and more, digital disruptors threaten and the age-old imperative to improve productivity remains.

To survive and thrive, companies need to make the most of their data to see trends and act quickly, just as digital disruptors do.

This requires a fundamental shift, one towards Intelligent Operations.     

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