Faster than the speed of insight: How you can accelerate digital innovation

By Mark Samuels

As an IT leader, having a great long game is no longer good enough to ensure you can beat your competitors. In today's technology-rich business landscape, winning CIOs must take the initiative to stay ahead of business needs and proactively gather impactful insights from data in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. This agile approach to gathering insights allows for iterative digital innovation and continuous optimization to ensure a strategic approach is taken for DevOps and the business as a whole.

Businesses have a need for speed

Savvy IT leaders promote an agile culture and methodology in order to give their business a speed advantage. Almost three-quarters — 72 percent — of business leaders believe competitors will use data and insights to disrupt their sectors within the next three years, according to a report from the Harvard Business Review (HBR). Though most IT leaders recognize the importance of promoting an agile culture, many recognize there is still much to do. As many as 92 percent of executives recognize they need to exploit data to compete, but only 14 percent believe they do this well, the HBR study reports. What emerges is a gap between successful IT leaders who are using data insight quickly and those who are lagging behind.

Executives have seen established industries get disrupted by new data-led startups — such as Airbnb in hospitality and Uber in transportation — but not all CIOs recognize that disruptions may take place in any industry, including their own. Too many businesses struggle to use data to facilitate digital innovation effectively.

The HBR report suggests 80 percent of businesses' teams are unable to collaborate on common data, while 84 percent say fragmented data gets in their way. To become a pioneer, rather than a laggard, you have to promote an agile culture so your organization can understand and respond quickly to analytical insights. It's vital to infuse these analytics throughout your organization's processes and get the insights to the appropriate people.

As a CIO, if you haven't already made steps in this direction, you're already behind. This is your wake-up call. You must take the initiative to respond to the threat of digital disruption. You need to create new, agile IT organizations that help your business embrace iterative innovation through analytical insight. The aim should be to drive innovation at the pace business requires.

Becoming an innovation ally

Established markets have changed and continue to change at breakneck speed. Companies are bombarded by disruptors using digital innovation to succeed. Disruption means today's successful business models could be superseded by others tomorrow. According to VentureBeat, nearly 90 percent of CIOs are investing more heavily in innovation.

The good news is that great CIOs are making the right moves and understand how to make the most of data. Research suggests 69 percent of organizations that emphasize speed in acquiring, analyzing and acting upon insights report a significant positive impact on business outcomes. You must use your experience to help your business embrace digital innovation.

To stay one step ahead in this new world of constant disruption, you must rise to become a trusted ally to help your line-of-business peers make the most of technology and data and allow your organization to innovate quicker than ever before.

Help your business innovate at the speed of insight

It starts by creating the right environment. Help employees across the business readily access key insights and use an agile framework to rapidly innovate. Data is the key. To provide insight you must adopt an analytics infrastructure that keeps pace with digital innovation.

The good news is that CIOs and their business peers are keen to invest in solutions that help the business, including those that generate better insights faster. In the updated Worldwide Semiannual Big Data and Analytics Spending Guide (March 14, 2017) IDC predicts global spending on big data and analytics will reach $150.8 billion in 2017, an increase of 12.4 percent over 2016. The forecast refers to investments in several key technologies, including data warehousing, user reporting and cognitive computing.

It's paramount that CIOs recognize that the right analytics infrastructure involves much more than technology implementation. Great data technologies, however powerful they may be, do not work in splendid isolation. To make the most of insights generated through an analytics infrastructure, the focus must also focus on process and culture.

To stay ahead of the competition, look for new ways to transform your business. Focus on how data can be used to provide a better, more timely and actionable understanding of key opportunities. A key to-do list of actions imperative to surviving and thriving in the digital age emerges:

  • Cultivate your analytic capabilities: Generate insight to make fact-based decisions quickly.
  • Build a culture of innovation: Promote an environment of safe experimentation, where creativity is encouraged and rewarded.
  • Create a competitive edge: Use meaningful insights and game-changing innovation to develop new business models.

IT leaders who initiate this shift toward cloud, analytics and DevOps will give their business the chance to generate disruptive innovation. The result is a business that can make informed and agile decisions with the right information at its fingertips.