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Drive Your Business
The Data
Ecosystem
Becoming a more
innovative and efficient
data enterprise
2 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Introduction
The rise of ubiquitous data collection and analysis has fundamentally shifted...
3 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Leveraging
next-generation
technologies
In order to take advantage of the power of data, c...
4 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Data has the power not only to help humans make better decisions, but also to make
machine...
5 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Data visualization
Data’s value is seriously limited if it’s not
in a format that makes in...
6 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
CIO and IT
leadership priorities
Given the immense importance of the data ecosystem, many ...
7 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
The CIO must ensure that time, resource, and cultural investments are made into making a
c...
8 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Ensure data readiness
Today’s data-driven organizations need secure, clean, and in-context...
9 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Business-first approach
IT’s role is to support the business in its endeavors. To that end...
10 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Before implementation it is important to look at the internal, external, structured, and
...
11 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Implement
Implementation of data ecosystem initiatives may be rolled out over a significa...
12 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com
Conclusions
Understanding the data ecosystem and incorporating data-driven people, proces...
Drive Your Business
Founded in 1995, WGroup is a technology management consulting firm that provides Strategy,
Management ...
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The data ecosystem

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The rising collection and analysis of data has shifted the way companies do business. Four key ingredients to develop a data strategy, how to leverage next-generation technologies, and three essential steps for rolling out implementation are included. The Data Ecosystem will show you how to develop and implement the strategies that will meet the needs of your business.

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The data ecosystem

  1. 1. Drive Your Business The Data Ecosystem Becoming a more innovative and efficient data enterprise
  2. 2. 2 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Introduction The rise of ubiquitous data collection and analysis has fundamentally shifted the way companies do business. As data-oriented processes, products, and systems come to dominate, every company needs to reassess its technology strategy and implement new processes to facilitate data-driven decision making and automation. In today’s workplace, companies must strive to integrate their own practices and business model into an increasingly data-driven ecosystem. This requires significant leadership from the CIO and IT department, who must work closely with business leaders to develop data strategies that meet the needs of the business. Creating intelligence and interconnectedness For years, companies have been struggling to transform into organizations that are informed and driven by data insights. Some industries have been more successful than others, resulting in business disruption and creating entirely new customer revenue and operating models. These companies have achieved stunning success and proven to the business world that data has immense potential. In order to remain successful in the coming years, companies need to adopt these strategies. At the heart of every modern business should be a ubiquitous data ecosystem. This will provide the opportunity to strengthen organizational intelligence and interconnectedness across the enterprise, customers and external stakeholders. There are many business drivers influencing the need for a more dynamic, enterprise-wide data ecosystem, including globalization, speed to market, and competitive product or service differentiation. Data insights have always been paramount to decision-making at all levels of the organization. Now more than ever, they are informing and changing business interactions from problem solving to creating new conversations around innovation and the “art of the possible”. Data ecosystems are not perfect. There are many dimensions and challenges that can make a successful transformation difficult. But with new technology and practices, businesses have the opportunity to gain insights that can connect the data and draw inferences, patterns, and predictive elements that will inform and influence their future. This paper will explore the ways in which companies can use data ecosystems to drive business goals.
  3. 3. 3 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Leveraging next-generation technologies In order to take advantage of the power of data, companies must leverage next generation technologies that make it easier and more cost effective to gather, analyze, and act on information. Data ecosystem capabilities for the 21st-century knowledge worker continue to rapidly evolve, fueled by frequent advances in technology. Our technology savvy workforce is creating a revolution that demands richer data-harvesting capabilities. Big data, sensory IoT, cloud, mobile, and sophisticated analytics technologies are creating an interconnectedness in driving new value and transforming business. Companies must learn how best to use these technologies to drive business goals by improving efficiency, reducing costs, and capturing new markets. Advanced analytics Statistical analysis and science-based analytical methods have a large role to play in the future of business. As companies begin to realize that these tools can be used to make accurate forecasts, better understand customers, and develop more effective practices, they are becoming a critical component of the data ecosystem. But it’s not enough to simply make analytics a component of the overarching business strategy. It should be a leading component. It is increasingly possible to use data to identify better customers, optimize the workforce, and increase profitability. The days of acting on a gut feeling are over. Data-based and science-based analytics must be at the core of every successful business strategy.
  4. 4. 4 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Data has the power not only to help humans make better decisions, but also to make machines smarter. Progressive organizations are unlocking new value through machine learning and artificial intelligence, seeded by structured and unstructured data. These technologies can form the foundations for tools that allow companies to significantly increase their efficiency. Already, many tasks previously performed only by human workers can be done by machines. IT help tickets, for example, are rapidly becoming a thing of the past as new tools automatically resolve issues, while automated assistants become a reality. Machine learning also has significant potential in product development. Google and IBM are already using data-driven machine learning to develop disruptive technology (self- driving cars and the Watson Analytics platform, respectively). These examples show how wide a range of industries could be disrupted by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Companies that aren’t evaluating these technologies and taking steps to make them part of their own digital DNA will likely be disrupted by those that do. Machine learning and artificial intelligence Progressive organizations use machine learning and artificial intelligence to dramatically improve their efficiency. 
  5. 5. 5 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Data visualization Data’s value is seriously limited if it’s not in a format that makes intuitive sense to human employees. Powerful visualization- communication platforms have emerged as the new common language for explaining the story the data is revealing. Interactive charts, maps, and other visual aids can take big data and make it manageable. These tools allow humans to more easily interpret and act on complex sets of data, allowing it to be better used to drive business goals. The Internet of Things (IoT) often gets more attention in the media for flashy consumer novelties than business-oriented technologies. But those who overlook its power to revolutionize the way companies do business are ignoring substantial opportunities. Sensors allow business to collect data in a wide variety of areas, including production lines, retail displays, and vehicles, while actuators allow businesses to act on that data in real time. The potential of this technology is practically limitless, as companies can use it to develop new products, make better decisions, and improve processes. Connecting physical items to the network allows data to have more direct real-world implications. This makes IoT a key connective element of the data ecosystem. The Internet of Things
  6. 6. 6 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com CIO and IT leadership priorities Given the immense importance of the data ecosystem, many CIOs may wonder what their role will be in ensuring that the company is positioned for data success. IT leaders need to assess their people, processes, and technology and provide the leadership that underpin these contemporary data ecosystems. This means having a clear understanding of both business goals and the technology that can help drive them. The CIO’s role is one of IT leadership and business advisement to ensure that the company uses the data ecosystem effectively. It is critical that the CIO ensures that the data ecosystem evolves as the business evolves. As an “ecosystem”, it is never static, but rather always changing. One of the most important roles for the CIO is serving as a connection between business leaders and the technology world. A company cannot effectively use the data ecosystem unless it has strong buy-in from business leaders. This means that the CIO must strive to show the real value of data and data-driven processes and tools. Building a coalition of partners in business and IT units is critical to ensuring that every facet of the company is using data to drive insights and innovation. The CIO must work with business leaders to motivate collaboration at all levels. Connect with business leaders IT’s role is one of business support. It works to ensure that the business is using data in a way that allows employees to work more effectively and innovate. This means that the CIO must constantly build relationships both within and outside of IT. The data ecosystem should be a part of every business unit and every decision made within the company. The CIO needs to listen to the needs of the business and collaborate with other units to implement solutions that work for everyone. • Build relationships Developing the infrastructure necessary for companies to fully embrace the data ecosystem means significant time and resource investments. Many business leaders will be hesitant to make significant outlays without a strong business case. It’s the responsibility of the CIO to make this case and work with business leaders to develop solutions that meet the needs of the company. • Make the business case for data
  7. 7. 7 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com The CIO must ensure that time, resource, and cultural investments are made into making a company data-driven. The forward-thinking CIO needs to invest in IT skills and technology partners that will foster a culture that is motivated to understand the business data at deeper levels and that will be able to collaborate with business at a data-context level. IT must play a major leadership role in enabling the necessary frameworks, architectures, and governance of the data ecosystem. The CIO needs to harness core competencies in managing data-ecosystem services that consume both structured and unstructured data, providing analytics “sandboxes” that allow for exploration, hypothesis modeling, and prototyping. These new structures require agile technologies and methodologies that don’t demand “perfect” quality scrubbed data. Implement self-service Shadow IT is becoming increasingly common as workers go outside of the CIO’s purview to implement solutions that meet their needs. This can cause problems for the IT department, as they must often fix technical issues and security breaches introduced by these solutions. However, the CIO cannot afford to simply pretend these outside needs do not exist. The knowledge worker is demanding self-service tools that facilitate using data environments very quickly without long lead times and eliminating the dependence on IT organizations. IT should focus on building self-service frameworks that liberate the knowledge worker, providing more independence for experimenting, data exploration, and modeling, but in a way that works with the company’s overarching technology goals. Invest in the data ecosystem
  8. 8. 8 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Ensure data readiness Today’s data-driven organizations need secure, clean, and in-context data. These are high hurdles for most IT organizations, due to a lack of data centralization and the challenges around data integration when connecting disparate structured and unstructured data sources. Implementing master-data management and other similar solutions can help organize, centralize, and clean data, ensuring greater accuracy and consistency across the business. The CIO must spearhead these initiatives, working with business leaders to collect and collate data, reducing duplicate records, and improving the overall cohesiveness of the company’s data. Increase compatibility and connectivity Collaboration across the enterprise is a critical element of the data-driven workplace. Technology tools and flexible infrastructure, such as cloud and mobile, have emerged and are becoming more commonplace. This allows for the connection of these complex data ecosystems to enable more natural data exploration in serving the dynamic, interdependent needs of organizations. However, it is the responsibility of the CIO to ensure that these tools are adopted and that data is cross-compatible between platforms. Ensuring that data is clean and consistently formatted requires significant oversight and governance. The IT department must help guide the business to ensure an effective, overarching strategy for data across the enterprise. Ensuring clean and consistently formatted data requires significant oversight and governance. 
  9. 9. 9 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Business-first approach IT’s role is to support the business in its endeavors. To that end, it is critical that any data-ecosystem strategy makes business goals the top priority. Data ecosystems are formed from well thought-out business cases that are prioritized based on potential value and business impact. It is important not to be driven by the technologies, but rather approach opportunities from a business perspective and allow data ecosystem needs to emerge from a deeper understanding of business-use cases. The CIO must take the lead and work with business leaders to ensure that strategies meet the goals of the business. Developing a business-first data-ecosystem approach requires the development of a cohesive, enterprise-wide strategy designed to meet business goals. IT leaders must work with and advise business leaders to create a solution that works effectively for the business. Develop a data strategy It is important to approach data-ecosystem business opportunities as a collaboration between the business stakeholders and IT. Use integrated teams that are agile and driven by common goals. Focus on the business-use cases first, not the technology. Use these end-goals to drive technology decisions, not the other way around. This ensures that the initiative will work to for the business, instead of simply being ineffectual drains on valuable resources. • Work collaboratively The data initiative should first and foremost meet the needs of end-business users. Before making steps towards implementing an initiative, workshop the details of the business- use cases defining unstated, unmet, and unseen needs in the context of driving the value propositions. Sort out fact from fiction, uncovering insights through interviews, ethnography, and other exploratory approaches. Take a methodical, fact-based approach to identify what will help the business, what is cost-effective, and what is technologically feasible. • Identify needs Create a plan that seeks to start with a “series of small victories.” Start small, iterate, and reiterate to drive early business value. • Start small
  10. 10. 10 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Before implementation it is important to look at the internal, external, structured, and unstructured data and technologies to understand the inventory of what the organization already has and where the gaps are to support driving the business opportunities. Take steps to determine what data already exists, how clean this data is, and what data can be gathered and analyzed with existing systems and processes. Coupled with business-driven end goals, this will inform what the initiative needs to accomplish in order to be successful. • Assess the data landscape All initiatives in the business should be held accountable to predefined quantifiable metrics. It is important to set these metrics before implementation has begun so there is always a standard by which to judge progress and success. Identify the hypotheses around the value propositions, so outcomes can be clearly measured, enabling opportunities to be accelerated or killed based on objective criteria. • Set metrics
  11. 11. 11 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Implement Implementation of data ecosystem initiatives may be rolled out over a significant period of time, depending on the strategies outlined in the planning phase. It is important to stay committed to the plan by building and maintaining relationships with key business leaders, setting well-defined goals, and regularly reviewing progress. This helps ensure that the strategies outlined in the planning phase result in the desired business outcomes. It is likely that shifting a traditionally oriented business to a data-driven business will take a significant amount of time. For this reason, it is important to set smaller goals to roll out critical elements more quickly. Execute plans including people, process, and technology that deliver results in short time intervals (less than three months) that are measurable against the stated metrics. The company also should incorporate the learnings from the results into future plan iterations and continually evolve the data ecosystem. This progressive rollout ensures that the business can begin benefiting from the data ecosystem almost immediately and that it continues to become more effective with each interval. • Set progress intervals Once the initiatives begin progressing, it is important to continue listening to the business, paying close attention to how the efforts are being received. Keeping business support is critical to long-term success, so it is important to maintain relationships with key stakeholders and continue making the business case for the data ecosystem. It is also important to rapidly correct any problems that may arise and constantly strive to improve based on past results. • Keep listening to the business Data initiatives are only valuable if they drive real, quantifiable business goals. The metrics set forth in the planning stage are the guide by which to judge the progress and success of projects. Use these to make adjustments to ineffective strategies and to prove to business leaders that the initiatives are having real results. • Hold initiatives accountable
  12. 12. 12 ©2016 WGroup. ThinkWGroup.com Conclusions Understanding the data ecosystem and incorporating data-driven people, processes, and technologies into the enterprise is critical to the success of every modern business. As a greater number of companies begin to use data to innovate and make better decisions, those that don’t will increasingly be left behind. In order to stay competitive, it is important that companies take steps to integrate the data ecosystem into every business unit. This means taking a business-first approach to new data-oriented initiatives and involving key business leaders in the effort. Data makes companies more efficient and more effective. The CIO must take a leadership position and be the foundation for these initiatives. That requires working closely with business units, listening to their needs, and developing strategies that drive business goals. Key points: • Data-driven processes and technologies are critical to future business success. • The data ecosystem is comprised of people, processes, and technology. Having a strong foundation in each is key to achieving a data-driven enterprise. • The data ecosystem is always evolving as the business evolves. It is always changing, never static. • Several advancements in technology, such as IoT, machine learning, and analytics, are driving the data ecosystem and enabling companies to become more intelligent and interconnected. • It is important for the CIO and IT to take a leading position in data initiatives, make the business case to IT leaders, and help to develop effective technology strategies. • Companies should take a business-first approach to the data ecosystem. That means listening to business needs and using them to develop a data strategy. • Initiatives should be measured against quantifiable metrics. Projects that aren’t meeting benchmarks must be adjusted. • The CIO must continue to work closely with business units to develop strategies that drive business goals.
  13. 13. Drive Your Business Founded in 1995, WGroup is a technology management consulting firm that provides Strategy, Management and Execution Services to optimize business performance, minimize cost and create value. Our consultants have years of experience both as industry executives and trusted advisors to help clients think through complicated and pressing challenges to drive their business forward. Visit us at www.thinkwgroup.com or give us a call at (610) 854-2700 to learn how we can help you. 150 N Radnor Chester Road Radnor, PA 19087 610-854-2700 ThinkWGroup.com

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