Lights and Technology
24 November 2022

Data: Companies' Key Assets

Data is companies' main asset and the return it brings to companies.

Data is the main asset of companies and the return they bring to companies.
Data are currently fundamental pieces in the management chessboard of any company. Their treatment and proper use bring countless advantages and can increase the productivity and profitability of organizations.Executive Digest spoke with Luís Gonçalves, Data Analytics & AI Director at Noesis, to understand the importance of data analysis, the main challenges, and if the new paradigm requires a new kind of leadership in organizations.

E.D.: What is the importance of data analysis for companies?

L.G.: Nowadays, data is one of the companies' most significant assets, resulting from the growing digitalization of processes. For, they can substantially influence various vectors that sustain the operation of an organization, whether at the level of the customer journey, production processes, or business management itself.
Data is structural. However, data per se is useless. A company that captures and stores data is by no means a company with a data-driven culture, nor will it get results from such a practice. To gain leverage from data, you need to turn it into information and business-relevant insights.
And in fact, the issue of "converting data into information" appears as one of the main challenges for organizations. Because it is a large flow of data in real-time, direct analysis is needed to find patterns and trends to meet the market needs.Nevertheless, data analysis on products/services, customers, and markets is essential to companies' business strategy and a significant source of revenue and competitive advantage.

E.D.: How can the analysis and processing of this data enhance business and company results?

L.G.: When processed, data can influence an organization's performance on a large scale, and the results are not restricted to one part of the business but to its entire value chain. These results can be seen in aspects such as:
  • Optimization of Business Processes. A company can get a clear and broad view of all its assets through the insights provided by data, identifying possible flaws and their degree of depth, impossible to be observed with the "human eye". The opportunity businesses have by detecting bottlenecks with greater ease allows for implementing an efficient business flow, cost reduction, and faster processes;
  • Enhanced Customer Experience. The latter is increasingly determinant for the customer's lifetime value since there is a strong demand for memorable and differentiating experiences. In this sense, data also adds value for consumers, who now have a better service and their needs are satisfied more efficiently. The available data makes it possible to assess and understand browsing and search profiles, media habits, and consumption patterns, among many other indicators. Intelligent use of these data allows organizations to adjust their offer, anticipating the needs of their customers and, in turn, increasing indicators such as satisfaction, retention, conversion, and share of wallet;
  • Data-Driven Management. A data-driven culture helps in the decision-making process of employees because they now have a clear and complete view of the performance and supply of the business, ultimately making organizations more agile, with a greater ability to adapt to the market and more relevant in the eyes of their customers:
E.D.: Does the need for companies to be increasingly Data Driven require greater empowerment? Are Portuguese companies prepared for this transformation?
L.G.: Portuguese companies noted it as a clear awakening to the importance of adopting Big Data and Analytics technologies in their business strategy. The vast majority of organizations are in a Data-ware phase, characterized by the applicability of data in at least one of their departments.This commitment is now followed by new stages, such as Data-Critical - perception of data as a must-have in several departments and decision-making based on data - and, finally, Data-Driven - when the company's strategy is defined by information. However, despite a broad base - Data-Aware organizations - as the stages advance, the volume of organizations decreases. Because only large companies in Portugal, make investments that allow such evolution.However, some pillars integrate a data-driven culture that is not closely related to the financial volume of an organization. But they may be related to the resistance, on the part of executive staff, to resort to data technologies or to the low level of data literacy of employees, which is accentuated by the lack of incentives and demystification of this obstacle.
In addition, the use of data in workflows should also be strategic and well-integrated, otherwise, it will decrease the buy-in from the organization's employees. Before integrating these tools, an assessment of the business needs should be carried out, also opting for the application of technologies that will boost your employees' work and not hinder it.
E.D.: What tools should companies adopt in this transformation?
L.G.:  The tools vary according to the needs and other characteristics of the company in question. However, companies should outline a Big Data architecture that makes corporate data available, actionable, and democratised so that all employees have access. Machine Learning models are vital for organizations to anticipate customer needs, thus improving customer interaction. This advance also allows for risk reduction in decision-making.
E.D.: Does the ongoing digital transformation require a new type of leadership? What attributes should the new leaders have in this context?
L.G.: There is no doubt that changes are needed at the leadership level since it is a transition that requires adopting a new approach to the business and because it is a process that also involves resistance from organizations. For this reason, leaders must adopt a sharing posture, i.e., communicate the business objectives the organization intends to achieve and the level at which the data can influence them to all the company's employees. It is also necessary that leaders implement a culture of experimentation, in which the fear of making mistakes disappears and invest in the workers' data literacy.
Finally, a balance between innovation and resilience because it is necessary to invest time for employees to acquire a certain level of digital maturity, and because there is no standard solution for all organizations, it is essential to have a clear vision of both the needs of the company and the journey of digital transformation.


Published (in portuguese) in Executive Digest