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  • Writer's pictureRachel Morgan

Data, cultural and transformation, what do SME's need to do?

Updated: May 30, 2023

There is more data and technology available then there has ever been.

But why are only 30% of all digital transformation programs successful? - McKinsey

According to HBR, the two main reasons are ‘disagreement of senior management about the goals’ and the second is the ‘ability to scale past a pilot’.

Both these reasons require a cultural shift to overcome the barriers and achieve a successful outcome rather than the actual technical capabilities.

The technology will enable transformation, but its come down to people agreeing on the cohesive goal and innovative thinking as to how things can be done differently and what problems are being solved.

An overused but still very true quote from Henry Ford illustrates it this well.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

We’ve worked with clients where the balance has been too focussed on using technology to support existing processes, they have taken years implementing platforms and tools with little to no business impact.

But this does tend to be in enterprise environments where there is a great deal of complexity and it can be difficult to implement change.

The good news for SME’s is that in ‘organizations with fewer than 100 employees are 2.7 times more likely to report a successful digital transformation than are those from organizations with more than 50,000 employees’ McKinsey

This uplift is mainly due to fewer stakeholders to own the decisions, and the SME’s being more agile in their approaches to actually make changes.

The further good news that tools and processing power is more accessible than it has ever been, according to Chief Martech, there are now around 8K different marketing technology platforms and low-cost entry points to cloud processing power and connectivity.

(On the downside this is causing choice anxiety but that’s a conversation for another blog…)

A well-implemented digital transformation program will give you access to much more data than you have ever had access to before and much more visibility to how your ‘customers’ are interacting with you, how they are navigating your website, access to what content, how much they are buying etc

The even better news is that this data is key to really grow your business. You will be able to tap into valuable insight to make informed decisions, identify new opportunities and manage risk.

But similarly to the technology not delivering transformation, data isn’t magic and it won’t provide the insight on its own, it will require new thinking and ways of working.

Some of the biggest challenges we still come across as to why businesses aren’t using data more strategically are:

  • Inherently revert to “gut” decision making, instead of an approach led by numbers

  • Lack of confidence in the data quality

  • An assumption that IT are purely responsible for the data quality and governance

  • Metrics and definitions that are inconsistent and take too long to produce

  • Limited analysis resources, lack of general data literacy and a poor questioning approach for insight

Leading with a data mindset overcomes these barriers by recognising the benefit that data will drive the growth of the business, champions the need for data to be looked after and managed correctly and expects a level of data literacy throughout the business.

This can be a whole new way of thinking for you and your businesses and may also require cultural changes and training to develop new skill sets.

It may sound scary and a lot of hard work but this should be approached as a journey and isn’t going to happen overnight. There will be some quick wins and the key is to determine where you want your business to be, what you need to know to achieve this and then prioritise what you need to do to create a pragmatic roadmap.

Once you start to uncover new opportunities or create a strategic plan that enables you to manage risk more effectively, testing to optimise marketing channels and messaging, you will start to see the benefit of creating the change.

Some of the key areas to think about when embedding a data mindset to enable businesses to grow are:

  1. Lead your business by being outcome impact-driven, requiring insight and data

  2. Champion the role of data and how it’s going to help you achieve your goals throughout the business

  3. Treat the data in your business as a valuable asset and govern it accordingly

  4. Have a business owner of the data outside of IT

  5. Embrace new skills and embed a base level of data literacy throughout your business

We work hand in hand with our clients to accelerate their growth by developing and leading with a data mindset. By working at your pace we establish a pragmatic plan, to enable your thinking and identity what you need to know and do to make your teams more productive and impactful.

We always start with a free discovery call to establish what your focus needs to be and discuss some new useful approaches that you can start using straight away.

To book one just fill out the form on the website or email me directly


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