How Can Decision Makers Stay Ahead in the Era of Competition?
By Guoliang Zhong , VP IT , FrieslandCampina
Based in Amersfoort, Netherlands, FrieslandCampina is a Dutch dairy cooperative providing their products to more than 100 countries. The company was founded in 1871 and currently has offices in 28 countries and employs a total of 21,186 people.
Data is becoming the lifeblood for the truly digital companies and data-driven decision making is turning out to be the most powerful competitive edge for them. The term ‘DT’ (data technology) has often been replacing ‘IT’ (Information technology). Not just the ecommerce companies like Amazon, Alibaba, etc., but also the traditional retailers have started thinking of themselves as data companies. They believe that the most valuable assets they have are their consumers and their purchase and behavior data, which has also been making them feel that they can extend their business or services into many new territories.
For the brick and mortar manufacturers or consumer brand companies, how are we going to play a new game in the big data era? Today most of companies have backend information systems platform, which supports the back office and operations such as enterprise resource planning and core systems.
Many senior executives have clearly understood and aligned that with the base ERP system and we have to embark on the journey to embrace customer experience platform for engaging customer and consumers as well as data and analytics platform, which contains information management and analytical capabilities. Data management programs and analytical applications fuel data-driven decision making and algorithms to automate discovery and actions. This is already predominant in many IT organizations where the company decides how to play /how to win.
"The most important aspect of right technical platform is to have an agile platform which allows the organization to break the data silos and integrate into one big data lake."
However, reality in many organizations today is that data sources are fragmented and very often there tends to be more data than we have imagined, i.e. the data are under-utilized. The challenge remains how to capture your ERP data, consumer data, sales data (including POS)as well as external data and connect all those data to avoid silos. Many organizations also don’t have the right platform and capability to govern and enhance the data.
To address those challenges, how IT plays a unique leadership role in the whole data topic can be looked upon from 4 aspects:
- Right data strategy
- Right technical platform
- Right security and governance
- Right organization
Right data strategy is about your company’s data blue-print. It should clearly articulate the data model definition, data acquisition, data partnership (e.g. 2nd party data or 3rd party data), processing and usage guidelines and more importantly the ownership of the data in the organization. The most important aspect of right technical platform is to have an agile platform which allows the organization to break the data silos and integrate into one big data lake (here big data platform and analytical tools come to picture). Security is another area to which organizations are paying more and more attention. We have seen many scandals of data leakage, which has made this ‘no miss item’ in CIO list. With all the data and right tools, the right analytical resources are the key to unleash the data treasure. People who are able to connect the data with the business story are in high scarcity in today’s job market and can make big difference for data-driven decisions.
In summary, CIO has to partner with senior business executives (CEOs/CFOs/CMOs/CXOs) in the company to start a clear roadmap and should take them along in the journey and as well as get the right talents on the bus. Only if you fully harness your data in an integrated way, you can become a true digital and data driven company.