The world has had to get comfortable with uncertainty. The Covid-19 pandemic caught everyone by surprise and, for businesses, revealed many potential shortcomings in their data strategies. Digital transformation is now the top priority across most industries, but without careful management that process can cause its own problems.
“We are living in a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and increasingly virtual, with data playing an ever more prominent role in our decision-making processes,” says Vaidya JR, SVP and global head – business intelligence and analytics at Hexaware Technologies. “To succeed as a business in this environment, a winning data and analytics strategy is key. As enterprises become data companies globally, there is a clear shift in the analytics paradigm, so we want to infuse artificial intelligence (AI) across the value chain, but we cannot ignore the fundamentals of data management.”
Hexaware helps companies transform their IT services. Its stated mission is to ‘automate everything, cloudify everything and transform customer experiences’, encapsulating a philosophy that could not be better suited to winning the race for value and customer insight in the dramatically changing world in which we live.
So, how can organisations create a data and analytics strategy to future proof their data management landscape?
“If you look at the key imperatives, most enterprises are data-driven, so they need to be able to harness data, manage risk and continuously create revenue-generating opportunities,” says Vaidya. “What you need is a solid business-driven data architecture that can enable customer-centric views and give you insights into customer behaviour.”
At a time of explosive data growth, compliance is another key priority, and it presents challenges around the quality of data, governance, privacy and security protocols.
“There is another side to it – time-to-market pressures for businesses, which want to capitalise on fleeting opportunities,” Vaidya says. “So, it is imperative to get a winning data strategy in place to be able to accommodate both these conflicting interests.”
Aiming for insight into customer behaviour
The most important tool any business can use as a platform for growth is clear insight into customer behaviour, derived and filtered from its data lake.
“The first step is getting the data fabric ready and right,” says Vaidya. “It starts with data discovery, data acquisition, data consolidation, which includes both data within the enterprise and external data in all forms and shapes.”
A key focus, therefore, will be developing processes to ingest disparate data sets from multiple sources into a data lake, which means managing the proliferation of point-to-point data feeds, and dealing with disjointed data sets that reside in siloes within the enterprise.
“Metadata management is of paramount importance here,” says Vaidya. “So is enabling data sharing mechanisms and getting those data APIs for easy consumption of relevant data across lines of business.”
“However, it is one thing to be able to get all the data under the sun, but quite another to be able to pool it effectively,” he adds. “Bringing in a high level of automation is key because 80% of the effort typically goes into preparing data for any analytics cycle.”
When data can be effectively pooled from all of the relevant sources, through automation, companies can start to gain insights at speed and, ultimately, consider data monetisation.
“That involves weighing up data as measured by estimating the economic value of data for various stakeholders, including suppliers, partners and consumers,” Vaidya explains. “So, that clearly involves is creating new business models around data.”
He gives an example of Hexaware’s work for a pharmaceutical company that collects health information from a vast array of sources, then prepares it for analysis in order to gain valuable customer insights. Hexaware helped this client to manage more than 120,000 sources of anonymous patient data from around the world and then monetise that data.
Help is at hand in the process of defining an optimal data strategy
Hexaware provides a comprehensive range of services and solutions, including its Amaze cloud transformation platform for data and AI, which can move a company’s ETL scripts, databases and BI reports to any cloud stack with savings of up to 60% in costs, time and effort. Its expertise, however, goes beyond the technical aspects of digital transformation.
“We understand that any strategy is only as good as execution,” says Vaidya. “Preparing the organisation for the people aspects of this change is crucial. As one embarks on the transformation journey, existing roles will change, some roles may go away, and then some new roles that will be needed.”
That comprehensive approach sees Hexaware engage with a business right from the start, helping them navigate the complex world of emerging and competing technologies, and to automation-enabled frameworks and accelerators that can give a business a jumpstart in the process of defining an optimal data strategy.
“The first thing that you should look for in your partner is the business and data experts,” says Vaidya. “The partner of choice will have automation throughout the data lifecycle as a core value proposition.”
For the shifting reality world created not only by Covid-19, but by the rapid transformation of business models across many industries, that kind of support will be essential.
“Digital transformation will be job number one on everybody’s agenda,” stresses Vaidya. “For digital initiatives, business and IT strategies are becoming synonymous. Everybody is going to look to build a more adaptive, more agile enterprise and that will be enabled by technologies that help in digital leapfrogging and building resilience on the cloud.”