The Year to Focus on Data

What better way to assess your business transformation planning for a new year than with a quick look at your current state? You may have already experienced a double dose of challenges in your business — too much paper and a treasure trove of data — that need your attention. I’ve talked about the “phased approach” before, but for those that have already turned the corner with their transformation, let’s not forget about all the data you now have.

First, let’s review some basic phases:

TOO MUCH PAPER – It is the proverbial problem that we all seek to fix by going digital and transforming our operations to be more efficient — and green — with fewer paper processes and more digital records.  Depending on what you have done so far you should have already moved on from here. (If not, get your content management system in place so you can centralize digital information vs. paper files and use electronic processes vs. paper-based processes.)

  • Phase I: Digitize — check.

STILL USING PAPER, BUT NOW I HAVE DATA TO DECYPHER – If you don’t have a team of data scientists to help you translate the information for your business groups, you could be missing out on what the data tells you.

“One type of data scientist creates output for humans to consume, in the form of product and strategy recommendations.  They are decision scientists.”

Harvard Business Review, Managing Data Science newsletter, “The Kinds of Data Scientist” by Yael Garten, 1.2.19

Of course, the business data you have scanned in (say, from your invoices) helps eliminate some front-end paper in accounting, but it is the data from your processes that really needs your attention.  It is here where you can find inefficiencies, learn about levels of productivity and find the exceptions that kick-out from an automated workflow.

“…the consumers of the output are decision makers like executives, product managers, designers or clinicians.  They want to draw conclusions from data in order to make decisions…”

Harvard Business Review, Managing Data Science newsletter, “The Kinds of Data Scientist” by Yael Garten, 1.2.19

  • Phase II: Automating workflows — check.

If you are transforming in your accounting, finance, human resources, order entry and records retention groups, then you are seeing a lot of new data starting to come your way.  While accelerated processes and enabling more secure access to data are key benefits to making the transformation, you cannot ignore that you now have a lot more process data that should be analyzed and shared with each business group to help with better decision making.

PAPERLESS (YAY!) AND NOW LOOKING AT THAT TREASURE TROVE OF DATA – The ultimate transformation has given you the ability to leave the paper behind and use digital information to drive your processes. So, now you face the data dilemma.

  • Phase III Using the data — the task at hand.

The key to your success with data will be to align your data team with your business needs. Use the data proactively for better decision making. With content management, that means  understanding the processing data and its impact to your specific business (e.g., order management, sales leads, approval processes, invoice turnaround, onboarding, etc.).

“Although different kinds of data scientists may have different specialties or duties, there are a few things they all need to succeed.  They need business partners who can help them integrate into the core business and product lines.”

Harvard Business Review, Managing Data Science newsletter, “The Kinds of Data Scientist” by Yael Garten, 1.2.19

In this “Year of Data,” with the proper content management system in place, your commitment to be digital, and with the data team providing you the insight you need, you will be able to make enhancements and see improvements.  The availability of data will only grow, and innovative systems are here to help you manage the data. So don’t fall short with capturing, analyzing and using the resulting knowledge to ensure your business operations only get better in this new year and for years to come.

Joanne Novak is a program manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. and is responsible for program development with the company’s Business Intelligence groups, including the Intelligent Information Management (IIM) practice. Her responsibilities are to build sales and customer-facing educational and thought leadership insights as well as strategic initiatives for IIM.