Remote working and the distributed enterprise business model require a data strategy that adapts and responds to change
The dramatic change to working culture that has taken place since March 2020 will require organisations to ensure their data strategy embraces the distributed enterprise. As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, remote working has become normalised and will remain an element of the work/life balance your team members will come to expect from now on. For organisations to achieve productivity and customer service, team members need data and tools that enable them to be as efficient at home, in a cafe or client-side as they would be at your organisational headquarters. A data strategy developed to accommodate the distributed enterprise will provide a range of business benefits.
The pandemic has turned every organisation – to varying levels – into a distributed enterprise, but in truth, this was a trend taking place already. Digital transformation of organisations enabled the remote enterprise to develop; it brings with it a number of operational improvements, as well as challenges. “The virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past, setting in motion a structural shift in where work takes place, at least for some people,” business advisory group McKinsey stated in its analysis: What’s next for remote work. Adding that organisations will reap major rewards: “The new model promises greater access to talent, increased productivity for individuals and small teams, lower costs, more individual flexibility, and improved employee experiences.”
“There is a recognition that the world is changing, and there must be more efficient ways to work, and as a result, the business is becoming much more data-aware,” says Adatis Commercial Director, Martin Philpott.
Wherever work is taking place, data must align with the strategic objectives of the organisation; as a result, the data strategy of an organisation has to be completely aligned to the business strategy, and a modern data strategy embraces the distributed enterprise. The data strategy will, therefore, drive improvements in the business processes, create efficiencies, benefit customers and be central to how the organisation operates. Location is, therefore, not an inhibitor to work or the data strategy.
“CFOs and other members of the C-suite are seeing a lot of frustrations in their businesses and are looking to remove those,” says Günter Richter, Adatis Head of Business Consulting. “If you have a robust data strategy that is designed in a way that understands the business, then it will be adaptive to the change in business demands,” Richter adds.
Advisors McKinsey agrees with Richter and finds in its research that organisations seeking to build a competitive edge will have to develop new methods of defining, implementing and integrating data stacks within the business. As part of this, organisations must leverage the cloud as well as new concepts in data architecture, it finds.
In Richter’s experience organisations adopting a data strategy that recognises the distributed enterprise will discover new ways to operate, which ultimately leads the business to “become more perceptive and to unlock data and then business opportunities”. Amongst the benefits of adopting the distributed enterprise approach is that the business can become closer to customers, suppliers, hubs of talent or other extended communities that enable the business to grow. As a result, the data strategy provides the organisation with greater freedom, as its workforce can work closely – digitally and physically – with the customer, which leads to improvements in business processes and removes cumbersome ties to actions that can only be completed at headquarters.
With greater access to data, the organisation can make evidence-based decisions, and as a result, respond to changes in market conditions. To ensure all members of the organisation are making decisions using the very best evidence available, all forms of data need to be available and support the distributed enterprise. As Sacha Tomey, Adatis CTO and co-founder points out, evidence-based decision making uses both internal and third-party data. “Partner data, market data, and analytics data no longer reside within or under the control of organisations,” Tomey says. The distributed enterprise is far more likely to be working collaboratively with partners and the customer than a more traditional business.
Understandably many business technology leaders in all sectors are concerned that the remote enterprise will lead to major weaknesses in data protection and compliance risks. The CIO of a major European healthcare provider, for example, said: “I have no view of what staff are doing on their devices, and they are working with patient data.” Healthcare was a sector that was forced by the pandemic to suddenly adopt remote working, which had not become as widespread in this sector as it had others. But CIOs and the board are responsible for vital personal data, and the introduction of the GDPR regulations across Europe in 2018 has increased the need for strong compliance. A distributed enterprise does not mean a less secure organisation, though. “We have always had regulations to comply with, GDPR has educated the entire organisation,” says Richter of Adatis of how in all markets GDPR has raised data security awareness. Richter adds that data now has the threat of sending the leadership team to jail, which has enhanced their understanding of the topic.
“We make sure that your data and the technology is up to date and accurate,” says Dan Perrin, Managed Services Director at Adatis. “Our job is to be the enabler and make sure that the data platform is available, as well as the people and skills, so you as an organisation don’t have to worry.” Organisations working in a distributed enterprise method are often highly customer-centric, innovative and tapping into a diverse range of skills across the world. A data managed service ensures the organisation can focus on its core business, and not worry about having the right data skills, technologies and compliance levels in place within the business. Just as with enterprise cloud computing, facilities management and recruitment, a managed service provides these and the burstable ability to cope with sudden increases in demand.
The distributed enterprise model is set to remain a cornerstone of the economy. Organisations with a data strategy in place that responds and enables distributed working will remain secure, able to make evidence-based decisions whether work takes place and is able to grow.
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