Orchestrating Digital Transformation

In this guest editorial post, Kutlwano Ngwarati, Head of Data & Analytics at Lombard Insurance shares her perspective on digital transformation, and how to make it a success

When I think of an orchestra, I envision a consort of instruments played by musicians who are the best in their respective fields. These specialists are led by a conductor who may have never played an instrument before but has the gift of being able to direct a musical performance, acting as a guide that produces a harmonious sound.

Driving digital transformation in any organization is like the analogy of an orchestra. Data and technology leaders resemble the conductor who brings together the technical expertise of the data team and the business knowledge of operations to build a data-driven organization that provides value and insights.

The music sheet is the overall company strategy in the data world. This helps guide all digital transformation initiatives so that they align with the overarching company goals. Without a music sheet, the conductor becomes directionless.

Before a performance, the orchestra can spend weeks rehearsing. Depending on the complexity of the music, rehearsals can even stretch for months, with a conductor focusing on notes, acoustics, rhythm, timbre, and tonality. To drive a digital transformation strategy, data acquisition, ingestion, governance, and architecture are all important elements in leveraging this asset called data. The outlined company objective can take months or even years for it to be realized. With data engineers, data scientists, cloud architecture, business leaders, etc. all “rehearsing” together to achieve commercial value.

The final piece that brings it all together is the audience – your customers and stakeholders. Sometimes at the end of the “performance”, you get a standing ovation, and other times, the audience leaves dissatisfied, annoyed that they purchased tickets to the show.

To mitigate against the risk of having disgruntled stakeholders who may find the ROI of data and technology investments less than pleasing, don’t wait until the end of the strategy implementation to evaluate your performance. A data leader should continuously develop and test data products and services (automation, reporting, analysis, etc.), failing fast and failing forward, that’s what “rehearsals” are for.

Remember to always get buy-in early from as many stakeholders as possible. The employees of the organization must understand and support the digital transformation journey. This simple but often overlooked step is the difference between a round of applause and a standing ovation.

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