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Three Superior Human Skills in the Digital Age

Technological advancements have allowed for organizations to stay connected to people within and outside the company walls. While face-to-face interaction isn’t the norm today, technology has brought forth the need for managers and subordinates to develop a specialized set of human skills that can help employees navigate these technological times.

In-season skills in the age of technology

While new skill sets are certainly prized, managers around the world stress on three traditional skills which are essential for employees of the digital age. In fact, managers and business leaders believe that these evolved traditional skills will help their personnel better manage the challenges and opportunities of new-age technology-based organizational environments.

Here are three superior human skills that you need to cultivate, in order to be successful in the digital age:

  1. Collaboration

With new technology being developed on a continuous basis, technical know-how will only get more specialized and out of reach. It’s important for personnel with this new knowledge to work together with their team, to facilitate sharing of technical knowledge and experiences.

Additionally, with team members working remotely from various corners of the world, collaboration with both people and machines becomes a priority to effect positive operational and strategic results.

  1. Communication

While technology has certainly been a blessing to organization-wide communication, it must be acknowledged that a lot of information gets lost in the system. Technology can only do so much when it comes to data processing, analysis, and communication. The rest is up to people.

From something as simple as tips on troubleshooting to highly confidential business information, employees need to learn how to navigate this complex technological landscape in order to effectively communicate pertinent information to their peers and supervisors.

  1. Emotional Intelligence

Technology has long been credited for being the cause of the loss of humanity in today’s organizational setting. While it’s debatable whether this is an undeserved allegation or not, the operational and strategic benefits of being emotionally responsible and responsive must be recognized.

The ability to sympathize, empathize and connect with people is a human gift, one that must be actively cultivated by employees across the organization. Being able to express and navigate emotions will help employees read non-verbal cues that data and technology fail to identify, allowing business leaders to take important decisions.

Human skills will only serve to complement digital know-how. Developing and cultivating these skills will equip employees with the skills needed to be successful in this digital age.

 

Nature First. People Second. Machines Later.

Technology specialists and business leaders have long predicted that technology will make people obsolete in workplaces and this prediction has partly come true. The World Economic Forum recently revealed that robotics and AI would result in loss of over 5 million jobs worldwide. Does this mean that we are prioritizing machines over people?

Machines in the form of automobiles and other carbon generators have had serious environmental impacts, leading to an enlarged carbon footprint and loss of biodiversity. It would seem that with the recent technological advances, we are not just putting machines over people; we are also putting them over nature.

But is this entirely true?

The new epoch

While technologies are reducing the human touch from the organization’s day-to-day operational activities and while they are having a negative impact on the environment; technological developments today are trying to preserve ecosystems and livelihoods.

Let’s address the issues individually. First, we have the problem of job automation leading to a loss of livelihood. Scientists and technology experts, including Tesla’s Elon Musk, believe that augmenting ourselves will help us avoid the threat of job automation.

Brain augmentation has become a reality. Scientists at Harvard are using technology – ultra-fine electronic meshes – to boost the human brain’s ability to receive, process and act upon neural inputs. This will allow our brains to behave like supercomputers, reducing our necessity to depend on actual computers. The objective is to use technology, not to replace people, but to complement and supplement their natural skills. An additional advantage of augmentation would be the easy identification of degenerative neural disorders, which will help doctors save millions of lives. It seems quite obvious that we are putting people ahead of machines.

Now for the second problem – technology’s impact on the environment. Google, on its 19th birthday, released a video of how the Charles Darwin Foundation was using its Street View software to map the Galapagos Islands, in an attempt to preserve this unique ecosystem.

Closer home you might see a carbon capture plant being set up. Global Thermostat and Carbon Engineering are two carbon capturing companies who plan to use technology to capture as much as 300,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year and use this carbon to make eco-friendly materials such as AirCarbon, which can in-turn, be converted to items such as chairs and baking soda. These are just a few of the examples of how technology is putting nature ahead of machines, and by extension, we are considering the well-being of people ahead of the welfare of machines.

A balancing act

While machines aren’t completely without blame, they mustn’t be blamed entirely either. At the end of the day, how we utilize technology and what we prioritize is up to us, as humans.

Harsh Realities of Digital Age Data Strategy

Businesses face multiple challenges when it comes to shaping their data strategy in the digital age. Choosing the right data, tools and technologies, hiring the right talent, handling analytics, building models that predict outcomes are some of them. Transformation of the business operations based on analytics and insights is the other major challenge facing organisations. What we mean here is ‘the ability to act on data’ as opposed to the ‘inability to act on data.’

Realities of digital age

Data which was historically easy to collect and process is now complex, unstructured and indeed, quite a lot in quantity as well. The huge influx of raw data from smart technologies, social media, videos and multiple other channels contain insights that are actionable. These insights further shape targeted strategies and informed decisions for businesses.

But, the question is whether the organisation is indeed ‘able to act on data?’ Does the culture, the available technology as well as other capabilities permit and enable appropriate action?

Regardless of where an organisation stands in their digital age journey, the first step for any organisation pursuing a digital age data strategy is to acknowledge and accept its position on a scale that measures their ‘ability to act on data’ as well as ‘inability to act on data’.

Once there is an honest introspection and acceptance of this reality, it is then a question of what needs to be done as the ‘next best action.’

Whether you are a CEO, COO, CDO or indeed a member of your company’s board, this honest introspection will certainly create opportunities which were previously not visible. This is sufficient clarity needed to empower the ‘datapreneurs’ of the organisation.

Datapreneurs shape data strategy

Datapreneurs by design pursue ‘enterprise value’.  There is indeed no time for petty politics and energy drains, that most large organisations suffer with. Empowered datapreneurs positively energise the organisations.  This in turn creates a ‘winning’ mindset within the wider organisation.

When this energy collides with data – magic happens!

Decisions are made more often, timing of those decisions would be just right and more importantly the reasons for the decisions would be in pursuit of value that is indeed for the betterment of the business eco-system the organisation operates in  whether this is just seen as the enterprise as a whole or indeed the whole world.

Three visible signs that your data strategy is working

A winning data strategy manifests in many ways.  Here are three obvious ones:

• Commoditising the technology infrastructure – There is evidence that your investments are being utilised in the right manner at scale.

• Industrialising data integration – Efficiencies are pursued ruthlessly, sweating every dollar and every byte of available data.

• Pervading reporting, analytics, and visualisation throughout the organisation – A culture that lives and breathes on data.

This is evidence that the combination of people, processes and technologies are in harmony creating value for the purpose of the enterprise.

With out a sound data strategy – there is a plethora of activities, maddening rush of just doing work for the sake of work and more importantly, there is a gross neglect of creating value for the shareholders, customer and other partners in the eco-system. Would you want your organisation without a sound data strategy?

How Video Marketing Can Be A Powerful Tool for Chief Data Officers

 

As data continues to grow as a major asset, Chief Data Officers (CDO) occupy center stage in the management of data. The huge data volume without appropriate and adequate consumption can cost companies billions of dollars, starting with opportunity costs. Consequently, CDOs are pressured to make their business case almost every time they are expected to invest a dollar, whether it is for regulatory responses or indeed growth and innovation pursuits, such as cloud migrations, for example.

It Hurts To Be A CDO Who Cannot Tell Stories With Data

A recent survey indicates that the volume of data within an enterprise will expand by 33% within thenext one year. Faster and more accurate data analytics will be the major demands from CDOs in the digital era.

Value creation with data is a key pressure point for any CDOs. And then, both the Chief Operating Officers as well as Chief Financial Officers expect and demand. Of course, the rest of the C-Suite also expects the CDO to deliver. In this context, it is imperative that the CDO of the digital age knows how to convince their organisations, C-Suites and indeed the boardroom. Any inability to convince or effectively demonstrate the value of data is a certain disaster. Such failures translate into millions or even billions of dollars of losses which neither the company nor the CDO can afford to accept. This is usually through miss-spending or failed projects or programs. In ability to invest in innovation investments is also very expensive.

Traditionally the Chief Information Officer, the Chief Financial Officer or the Chief Operations Officer handled data management.  Regardless of which ‘x’ in the CxO – It is imperative that the leader know how to manage and create value with data.

CDO, for that matter any leader, needs to have the ability to influence his followers.  More so, is the case of a CDO, who needs to help his or her organisation ‘visualize’ and more importantly create value with it. Story telling is a mandatory skill for a CDO.

Use Of Video Marketing To Create & Sell Stories

In this context, video marketing can be a powerful tool to create data centric stories in a format that appeals to people’s emotions. Value cases for data usage can be created using video marketing effectively.

CDOs can communicate the business value of data better, through video marketing in the following ways:

  • Demonstrate the use of certain actionable analytics to improve the bottom line
  • Creating transparency of the data and technology landscapes through videos
  • Feature personal stories of staff and people involved in creating value with data for the organisation

Video marketing, potentially bridges the gaps between the boardroom, the C-Suites and the entire organisation as it is one of the best forms of communicating in this digital age. If done right, there is no reason, why this cannot become a part of the mainstream organisational process.

Get Rid of Poor Data Quality Once and for All

The impact of poor quality data is felt both in terms of revenue as well as the reputation for organisations. Data quality issues cost businesses $600 billion per year according to a report by TDWI (The Data Warehouse Institute). A 2016 report by IBM estimates that the losses caused by poor data quality are almost $3 trillion annually.

Organisations also incur damage to their reputation which can vary from minor to major. One example is the roll out of Maps by Apple in which most of the data was inaccurate and not usable. Reputation damage also has a direct impact on revenues.

Striking the balance

While many businesses realise the criticality of data quality, they are not effective in striking the right balance in allocating resources to address data issues. Although businesses respond to regulatory demands to invest in data management, return on investment is a subject that eludes CFOs and COOs.

According to a report by KPMG, 84% of CEOs are not confident about the quality of data they are basing their decisions on. Two out of three executives are overwhelmed by the quantity of data that need to be analysed. In the digital era, technologies including Internet of Things and automation are leading to exponential growth of data. To be able to stay ahead of the competition, managing the data quality is becoming increasingly important for businesses.

A 10% increase in data accessibility can boost the net income by $65m for Fortune 1000 companies. Simplifying the data deluge management process with the right tools, methods, people and processes is basic to solving data quality issues.

The solutions

The first step to getting rid of poor data quality is to understand the relative importance of data. Focusing on the most important person-centric data, followed by products and services is critical to managing data quality.

  • The person-centric data should be of the highest quality and also well managed to enable businesses to run efficiently. In this context, businesses should know the relationship between Business Strategy-Business Model-Business Process-Data.
  • The most critical data for the business needs to get 100% in terms of quality. Before getting into big data analytics, it is crucial to get the quality of person-centric data right. The cost of not managing the quality of person-centric data can run into billions or trillions for businesses.

The Data as an Asset (DAAS) Index is a tool that helps create transparency required to address and manage data quality.  Just like in the industrial age – ZERO DEFECTS – is a possibility.

Patience and discipline is the basic foundation, though.

In the midst of burgeoning technologies.

It does Matter: A Case for Making People Relevant in the Age of Machines

In the age of big data, machines and artificial intelligence the relevance of people can be questioned. And the question may be justified when viewed with certain lenses. After all, this is a world in pursuit of ‘profits’.

However, good leaders do realise that businesses are made up of people who have a stake in them. These stakeholders include the employees, shareholders, consumers, partners, and vendors. These individual stakeholders in fact, drive the economy as a whole.

People create value

Since every enterprise is an orchestration of people, processes and technologies – purposeful value creation is based on how well people come together along with processes and technologies. Value can only be created by people for people. Digital age companies can only succeed when they ask themselves, “Do we have the right people in the right place to steer this ship in this age of uncertainties using the tools and technologies available?”.

Investing in people is the right strategy for companies. A successful company is only possible when successful teams are put together. The right talent at the right place is still going to be the critical factor for digital age success. People who have the right competencies across the value chain drive the success of enterprises.

Decision making with empathy is critical in the digital era

Data is available from every channel imaginable and machines are becoming smarter by the minute. But without the right people, who can understand and channelize all that data – progress is just not possible. Data must not only be well organized but be in the hands of the right people so that it supports managerial and executive decisions, followed by subsequent outcomes.

All business outcomes are a result of decision making. Right and well timed decisions result in good outcomes while a series of systematically bad decisions result in failure of businesses.

The culture within an organization is also set by people, and people only. Certainly, not by machines or AI! Creating a strong and adaptive culture in an enterprise is critical to succeeding in the digital age. Going digital is not about things or machines, but about “how you do things better. More importantly – for a better world!” The “how” of doing things is always up to the right people who can make the right decisions based on the tools and technologies available to them.

The right capabilities can help companies keep pace with their customer needs as digitalization changes consumer behaviour rapidly. Technical capabilities such as big-data analytics, artificial intelligence, digital content management, etc are crucial for success in the Digital Age.

But nothing to replace what a human and only a human can do best, in any process.  And that is – to empathize!

Digital Age Leadership Books to Read

In the digital age, harnessing the power of data along with displaying entrepreneurial skills is key to creating value for enterprises. People who can combine leadership roles with their ability to analyze big data are the datapreneurs.

Skills digital age leaders need

Datapreneurs must be entrepreneurial in their use of data besides taking ownership of their responsibilities. Not only do they need to develop strategies based on data but be able to find innovative solutions to the task at hand.

In the digital age, a leader can be redefined as the one who can harness the power of data to make the right decisions. Data, processes, and technology must be used in a smart way by these leaders to create value.

Using the right resources will help fine-tune the abilities of digital age leaders. Being self-driven, taking initiatives, and knowing how to influence people and policies are some key skills of digital age leaders.

The books to read for digital age leaders

 Digital to the Core: The book written by Mark Raskino and Graham Waller talks about how business leaders must recognize the ‘impact of the digital revolution’ on industries and leadership practices and styles. The authors present a detailed insight into 30 top C-level executives from Ford, McDonald’s, GE, and Tory Burch.

The Case for the Chief Data Officer (CDO): Recasting the C-Suite to Leverage your most Valuable Asset:  Authors Peter Aiken and Michael Gorman discuss how to obtain a data advantage, the definition of a data chief in the digital age, and how data needs a dedicated focus as given to technology.

Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate. Written by Shawn DuBravac with a foreword by Gary Shapiro, the book talks about a new era that has been ushered in by the digital ownership. The core of the book is dedicated to how the data will relate to the day-to-day lives of people and how every area of work, life, and communication will be impacted by data.

The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age: Author David L. Rogers discusses how enterprises with a legacy of technology can transform into digital organizations. Also given is a step-by-step guide on the processes involved in such a transformation. The author believes no playbook exists for management to understand how to cope with the challenges

The One Resource to Master for Digital Age Success

Time, as they say, is of the essence. Intelligent management of time is something that eludes executives in top level management, but it is indeed the resource to master to be able to succeed in the digital age.

Time is the most valuable resource to master

Financial pressures from stakeholders and performance related issues are common issues that plague many leaders. If leaders understand how to better manage time to make better choices and decisions at the right time, drastic consequences would not need to be faced, such as the ones that led to the executive suicides in some companies.

Time is indeed of prime concern to the digital age leaders and without intelligent time management, leaders find themselves with not enough time for family, recreation, education or even health.

Working smart involves prioritizing tasks intelligently into compartments instead of working all the time without getting anywhere. Leaders also need to understand that data reflects the business processes which in turn impact the business model that reflects the overall business strategy and outcomes. Such clarity would lead to prioritizing and using time in a more efficient manner to make critical decisions in a timely manner that can save businesses as well as lives!

How can leaders manage time better?

When leaders focus on the priorities of the shareholder, customers, and employees, they have a better understanding of how to utilize their available time. The key to understanding these priorities is having a good data management strategy that saves huge amounts of time and is, in fact, the tool for succeeding in the digital age.  Data management tools such as Data As An Asset Index will assist in mastering time better and is a must have for company boards.

The DAAS Index tool is a resource that offers a standardized way of measuring the relative importance of data systems. Using the DAAS index tool, companies can measure the data that is relevant to their business.

Leaders are also in a better position to make informed decisions when it comes to investments in IT and this is more of a relevance to Fortune 500 companies that have expenditures to the tune of billions of dollars.  In such scenarios, even minor shortfalls in managing data systems can result in huge expenses that could easily be avoided with the efficient use of the DAAS Index.

Funds are mismanaged due to errors in estimating the value of data systems and further, this can lead to failure to create value for the business. Such mismanagement is a drain on time as well as money which leaders can avoid by using the DAAS Index tool.

The Importance of Having a Simple Data Strategy

The notion of an overarching enterprise data strategy can be quite overwhelming. You can start by having a clear vision of the desired business impact from data. Specifically, on how data will be sourced, how it will be utilised and how organizational transformation(s) will eventually be enabled. All this must be clearly understood. Many more questions could emerge as well. Such as the following:

– How will we identify, combine and manage multiple sources of data? Regardless of (your) industry or size, you can expect datasets to be large and complex.

– Do we have/How can we build the capability needed to utilize tools and/or build methods that optimize enterprise outcomes?

– What kind of leadership initiatives and attitudes can transform the organization so that the tools and methods actually facilitate better, more consistent as well as profitable decisions?

To make data a fabric of day-to-day operations, everyone must be aware of the data strategy being pursued by the enterprise, the value it is expected to deliver, and their role in solving problems and making the most of opportunities. In this scenario, simplicity, transparency and usability can help create a mind-set that is more accepting of data and helps adjust to a data-driven culture.

Why you need a data strategy blueprint

A strategic view of data in particular and technology in general is imperative to realize measurable business value. When framing the strategy, three parameters come to the forefront: commoditizing the data infrastructure, industrializing data integration, and ensuring organization-wide consumption of reporting, analytics and visualization capabilities that are both internal as well as external facing. With this line of thinking, you can bring your complete IT infrastructure together into a single blueprint.

A data strategy blueprint serves your enterprise as a compass to indicate the current location to where it should ideally be in the digital age. There are three steps involved:

  • Data serves the purpose
  • Data as a capability
  • Data as an asset

All three depict data at different stages of its value to the enterprise. In the first stage, data does what it was intended to do, nothing more. In the second, data starts driving results, impacting innovation and being valued across the organization as an integrated and a consistent capability. As an asset, data creates an environment of constant innovation and makes the organizational culture more purpose-oriented, whilst simultaneously creating massive economic value. The latter being the ‘holy grail’ for digital age success.

When operating with a strategic intent, the blueprint also offers the big picture on what must be done with data, describing how best to organize data across the enterprise landscape. The tactics and actions that must be followed through for each of the aforementioned strategic parameters can be more clearly understood with a blueprint. When the strategy is broken down into its constituent parts, it ceases to be complex. A ubiquitous strategy outlining the desired outcomes of collective activity is required to help datapreneurs and the people they lead understand the value of their contributions and empower them to excel, in the digital age.