Last year, self-styled “data cheerleaders” Caroline Carruthers and Peter Jackson published the Chief Data Officer’s Playbook, a manual for newly-appointed data leaders who have joined companies that are planning to or have recently started on a journey of data transformation.
Their latest instalment, Data Driven Business Transformation-How to disrupt, innovate and stay ahead of the competition, feels a bit more polished and better finished than the last. But what is important is the content. Jackson, the director of group data sciences at Legal and General, and Carruthers who is director at Carruthers and Jackson wanted to really impress on readers some key messages.
One is to use data properly and responsibly. Another is that a data driven business transformation is not the same as a digital-driven or a digital transformation and this book is making the case for the former.
“You should have a data enabled organisation with ethics and governance built in,” they write.
This book also has tools for the implementation of such a transformation, but there are levels to it. A low level transformation is the transformation of a single business process, enabled by data.
Companies that have a higher level of data maturity can go through a data-driven business transformation which transforms the whole organisation but reaches an end state.
The top tier transformation, that can only be attempted by the most data mature organisations, is a total data driven business transformation with the end goal of continuous improvement. Carruthers and Jackson named this type of transformation ‘D3’.
They wrote: “A shift to this level of transformation will be seismic and fundamental but will set up an organisation to succeed and continue to succeed as markets, competitors, opportunities and challenges develop and continue to emerge, both internally and externally.”
A D3 approach encompasses changes to people, processes and technology and is all about taking an incremental approach to testing and iterating to make cumulative gains.
The chapters are laid out to explain the steps of the transformation process in chronological order, illustrated by sharp diagrams and boxes of questions and diagrams that enable to reader to assess their company’s readiness in terms of factors such as the starting place, tools and method.
To enable a data driven business transformation, at any level, the authors stated that seven elements underpin that transformation and should be used as a constant guide.
The first element is dynamic and continuous change with an ever-evolving end state and vision. The second element is a cultural shift towards data and how it is used that will support more agile methodologies. Leadership is the third element. The fourth is a change of focus to ‘data’ from ‘technology’ and ‘digital’. The fifth element is a mindset to succeed and the recruitment of people with the right skills to achieve that success. The penultimate element is organisation-wide understanding of the maturity starting point before the transformation begins. And the final element is people. They wrote “[The people ] are the powerhouse of creativity that will mobilise the data, keep it safe and ensure it is used ethically.” They added: ”We need to make sure we humanise the data transformation.”
The conclusion recaps the previous chapters and includes many peppy phrases that would encourage a data professional to go forth and get on the road to a data driven transformation.
"Data is there to be used, don’t ignore it. Become data cheerleaders like us and create a future where we leverage the real power of data.”
Essentially, they have laid out methods and processes to move forward and transform in a data driven way.