Recently, Accenture conducted a data innovation project for a multibillion-dollar revenue Middle Eastern company. The objectives of the project were to assess business operations and current architecture but ultimately, Accenture was trying to help the organization become more data driven. The results from this project helped the client reduce operational losses, have better visibility into their services, improve customer experience and optimize costs. Finally, Accenture recommended changes to enterprise architecture based on best practices. The purpose of this article is to first explain the methodology for data innovation projects but to draw insights to help businesses understand why a data driven approach can improve their business operations so they can become more competitive, more agile and ultimately, more profitable enterprises.

Data innovation – What is it exactly?

Data innovation is the initial fuel for digital transformation. It refers to the collection and analysis of data for the purpose of deriving insights which otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Data innovation then uses analytical processes and technology to drive insight, such as Artificial Intelligence and IoT. What enables this journey are cloud, connectivity and security. As organizations define their market position, they need to own the data of their digital transformation and this is where Accenture comes in. Data can be seen in three lenses: to drive business agility, compliance and ultimately, drive new revenue. However, using data to drive advanced analytics depends on the digital maturity of an organization. As competitiveness of an organization increases, so does level of sophistication required of its data analytics. The competitiveness of digital transformation on a company’s performance during COVID-19 is apparent. During 2020, the S&P North America Technology Stock Exchange has grown by around 44% while the S&P, in comparison, has grown only 18% . Technology firms will continue to widen the gap. The Middle East (and apparel and grocery retail in particular), saw a 20% growth in e-commerce in 2020 which further shows how quickly the region has moved towards digitization.

The structure of Accenture’s assessment revolved around a deep understanding of each business units’ operations. The team first conducted a series of workshops to better understand what were the client’s underlying difficulties. The workshop looked to understand the roles, personal concerns, challenges and opportunities of each stakeholder. Finally, the team looked into performance metrics, tools and systems used by each business unit to better understand their current state. Once the pain points of the business units were identified, Accenture categorized them based on relative difficulty to implement and the relative importance to business. From this, a set of “quick wins” will emerge that allowed the team to identify solutions for the business that are the most cost effective and impactful and help the business focus on resolving key issues.

Use case and how they can impact business operations

For most organizations, prioritizing management decisions revolves around two factors: cost and customer experience. When Accenture tries and assess cost drivers, it is always looking to understand competition involved, bulk synergies, internal costs to implement and outside factors. The final step of a data innovation assessment is to conduct an assessment of prioritized use cases by business unit using metrics of value and complexity. Each use case is classified into one of the possible types of analytics which are descriptive, predictive, prescriptive and cognitive. A team of Subject Matter Experts, Data Engineers and Scientists and other players come together to implement the use case while the team lays out each use case’s business impact, respective KPIs, stakeholders, required data and expected insights, which combined with value and complexity helped the client understand their options.

COVID-19 and supply chain

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new urgency for organizations, small and large, public and private, to expedite their digital transformation work. As Accenture found out, and as many companies will indeed discover, inherent in this journey are budget constraints, talent struggles and overall cultural changes that need to be aligned with the Corporate Strategy agenda. Amongst all the reasons to pursue a digital transformation, survival is by far the most pertinent one. Due to the pandemic, an organization needs to be agile, adaptive to supply chain disruptions and meet changing customer expectations. The best way to manage the digital transformation journey is to partner with advisory services that have seen the end to end process in many organizations and can add value, direction and guidance at every step of the way.

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