D Justhy

Data as an Asset Blog

Finance Technology 2020: #1 Reason to Use the Class N-ODS for Total Data Reliance

CEB Global, a subsidiary of Gartner Inc, had recently published a white paper titled, “Finance Technology 2020”. It is subtitled, “New Approaches to Solving the Four Biggest Challenges to Finance Technology Success in 2020”.

Four challenges for the success of finance technology

This white paper mentions, four challenges for the success of finance technology in 2020. They are:

  1. Distributed Technology
  2. The End of Traditional Hierarchies
  3. Total Data Reliance
  4. Tech Skill Premium

In this post, we on – Total Data Reliance.

Having witnessed various digitalization pursuits across sectors, globally, I cannot emphasis the criticality of this, sufficiently enough.

Chief Financial Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Chief Data Officers and even, Chief Information Officers often tend to be in a constant state of ‘reaction’, as opposed to being in ‘total control’ of their desired outcome, especially on matters related to digital transformations and data programs. Both include cloud as well as big data analytic programs.

Traditional vs non-traditional enterprises

…traditional enterprises are far more vulnerable than non-traditional enterprises…

Not surprisingly, traditional enterprises are far more vulnerable than non-traditional enterprises, in these matters. Although, no enterprise is immune to the complexities that the digital age thrusts upon us, as a society, traditional enterprises are often saddled with both legacy staff as well as legacy technologies.

But, it need not be that way. After all, progress with technology is intended to make our lives better.

Data can be the CxOs best friend

Fortunately, data can be your best friend when it comes to digital transformations. While security risk of data “graveyards” as well as cost proliferation can be two major risks to Total Data Reliance, the biggest opportunities which CxOs have available to them are enterprise data integration and development of an “analytic culture”.

The cost of ignoring these opportunities is too high and could potentially be fatal in some cases even.

Total Data Reliance with the Class -N ODS

Total Data Reliance is best addressed with a vendor neutral solution concept called, the Class-N Operational Data Store (ODS).

The Class-N ODS creates an enterprise opportunity to create value through both enterprise data integration as well as development to “analytic culture”. This is because people, processes and technologies collide gracefully in the Class-N ODS. When this happens, the organization is comfortable to embrace an “analytic culture”. i.e., with the way that the data landscape is simplified, the focus of the organization is more on leveraging and utilizing data to make decisions as opposed to doing a lot of wasteful pursuits which are inconsequential and even zero valued.

If there is one outcome that is of highest value to an enterprise, it is the ability to act on data with confidence. Whether the matter is to pursue growth or to respond to regulation.

Thankfully, the digital age gives data. And this is our best friend.

Learn more about the Class-N Operational Data Store in the Billion Dollar Byte.

Digital Transformations: Link Talent to Value With These Five Steps

You are a leader in your organisation, with a specific mandate of leading the digital transformation initiative. 

It’s crucial. It’s critical. It’s vital.

Your current organisation is quite “traditional”. Your technology landscape is saddled with legacy applications and a very strong legacy culture that resists change. Of course, the organisations do realise that change and transformation are a necessary part of survival and growth in the digital age.

Chief Digital Officer,  Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Data Officer and many more new labels are in full flow.

The CEO and the leadership teams now know the full potential of the new digital organisation. When  fully enabled the results would be dramatic. 10x results are possible through efficiency gains and revenue growth.

But, the real issue. The current organisation with a legacy mindset!

Its clear that a digital transformation program dramatically overhauls any traditional organisation. But, why can’t the transformation be graceful, sensitive and respective of a legacy culture?

Well, the real culprit is the mindset that one needs to “overwrite” the other. It could rather be one that could “pivot” into another through systematic training, development and nurturing program.

Clearly many large organisations have decades of legacy culture to transform. Tools and technologies alone won’t do it. It’s rather the acceptance that value creation is the primary focus in the digital world. Of course, the natural step is to accept that talent needs to be linked to value.

A traditional paradigm calls for “top down” changes, when transformations happen. However, an alternate approach could be to target changes synchronously by scientifically aligning talent to value. 

Here’s how, this can be done.

  1. Identify the business processes that are most valuable to the business, in the current (non-digitalised) business model as well as the target (digitalised) business model
  2. Identify the involved people and assess their current talents and skills, while benchmarking to a the target state talent and skill needs
  3. Map the people with the best talents (high performers) to fill in roles with the highest impact to value
  4. Train the rest of the organisation to meet the established benchmark standards
  5. Ensure that “biases” are eliminated or minimised for maximum impact & improve continuously

Positioning the best people into the most important roles does not happen by chance in a digitalisation initiative. It requires a disciplined look at where the organisation really creates value and how top talent contributes to that value, despite legacy culture, local politics and external pressures.

Digital age leadership is a new ball game for traditional leaders. Fortunately, currently available tools, methods and practices are adequate to help leaders drive this change. And data is certain to help keep control of these changes. 

As Jack Welch says, “Keep Learning”.

More on this available in The Billion Dollar Byte.

Digital Age: Three Signs of a Legacy Mindset In Your Organisation

When the world transitioned from the age of agriculture into the industrial age, people had to get used to a new way of life. They probably had to get used to working in factories and offices. There certainly was a need to get used to a “structured” set of supervised tasks, in new settings.

Some would have transitioned comfortably, while some would have resented a new way of working.

If you are in a traditional industry and you suddenly start to notice tectonic shifts in your work place, it would not be surprising to feel the same or similar kind of resent and discomfort.

Fortunately, our world is better prepared to handle this transition, in to the digital age. Or, at least I hope.

According to a McKinsey report, by 2030, as many as 375 million workers, an estimated 14 percent of the global workforce — may need to switch occupational categories as digitization, automation, and advances in artificial intelligence disrupt our world of work.

And I already observe this, as I travel around various countries addressing clients in traditional industries, that are threatened by digital transformations.

Here are three signs of a legacy mindset, every leader must know and recognise, in order to create a plan to mitigate a potential disaster.

  1. Believing that “someone else” is always accountable for anything that goes wrong in the organisation
  2. Not owning the issues in the organisation because of “role”, “designations” or “rank”, boundaries
  3. Thinking that only “additional” or “new” resources is the solution to today’s problems in the organisation

Fortunately, its not all bad news and gloom.

As always, WE are accountable for our outcomes and we can always train, educate and develop ourselves to be better versions of ourselves. The version that is most suitable for the digital age transformations.

Learning is our best friend, when an unknown world unfolds.

With the right kind of training and development opportunities, even legacy staff members tend to become more accountable, more committed and eventually, more entrepreneurial both in mindset and actions.

If you are a C-Suite executive who would not want your company to disappear, within the next ten years, you better act responsibly, today!

Invest in your people.

Digital Age Leadership: Three Things You Must Know About The Gig Economy

The Gig Economy. What’s all this fuss about, especially if you are a manager who has been with your organization for well over ten years or more?

Why should you care? How does this matter to your career?

When the millennium bug frenzy was at its highest in 1999, I first heard of the word “gig” in the context of a short-term contract. I was engaged as a data specialist in a major telecom company and an Australian colleague of , mentioned to me that he and his wife had decided to travel around Europe over a two year period, while depending on “gigs” in the region.

At that time, I knew that the word “gig” was usually referring an artists performance. A musical performance or perhaps a theatre performance.

It was not until recent times did I actually realise that most of us are an integral part of this gig economy. Having read the book, “Everyone’s An Artist (or At Least They Should Be): How Creativity Gives You the Edge in Everything You Do”, I am now certain that every circumstance in life can be a “performance”. Whether it is a meeting that I am running or a sales presentation for my business.

Every role in life can be a performance!

Importantly, a lot of investment goes into preparing for these performances. Sometimes even years. With this level of investment already committed, it surely does define the identity of the “performer” – whether as an executive, a leader or just a professional across any calling in today’s world.

Here are three things, you – as a digital age leader, must recognize in order to make best use of the “gig economy” that you are certain to be operating in.

  1. Recognize and acknowledge an alternate resourcing model, that is not new to the society but adds tremendous value if you structure is optimally, both for you as well as the contributing parties.
  2. Know that you are indeed, hiring an identity along with expert skillsets. You are hiring an “artist” who has possibly been honing their skill for years. So, plan and think through how you may want to maximise the return on your investment, both in terms of time as well as finances.
  3. Acknowledge and respect the fact that we are complex social beings – You and your gig contributing actors are all human beings with complex social needs. They are as important to the business ecosystem as all other entities and actors. Maximize their contributing value by putting best use of your ability to manage people.

Not recognizing the above is expensive both economically as well as emotionally. The best leaders transform any circumstances into positive outcomes. The gig economy creates an opportunity to make a profound impact in our world.

Make it count!

Every Digital Age Leader’s Best Decision

If you think your organisations Digitalisation, Analytics, Big Data or even your, Cloud Programs are showing signs of stress and perhaps, even failure, take heart you certainly are not alone.

The good news is that YOU can change its course towards success, within less than a years time!

There is no CEO on the planet who does not believe that his/her enterprise must become data-driven, in order to succeed in the digital age.

Of course, whether most realise that it actually means to be “data-driven”, is a completely different matter. Having witnessed several organisations actually invest more in shiny tools and technologies than in their own people, is a sign that there is a failure in understanding what data-centricity, actually means.

To keep matters simple, to be “data centric”, an organisation must be “person-centric”.

i.e., the enterprise must have knowledge of each and every process involved in the business model along with the involved persons, in the business process. And this includes, employees, partners, customers etc.

Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of investment dollars are poured into tools and technologies, while not enough is poured into developing critical competencies required to transform enterprises in the digital age. This in turn, exposes human capital weaknesses with various labels including “Talent gap”, “Talent erosion”, “Legacy staff”.

These are symptoms of a gap in a much needed digital age competency. I term this mandatory competency as “datapreneurship.”

The datapreneurship competency is centred around three elements, which no business can ignore to invest in, if they want to gracefully transition in to the digital age. They are as follows:

  1. Communication & Influence
  2. Process Discipline
  3. Datanomics

Without communication & influence, employees are just hands and legs. And this contribution has inadequate economic value. The best organisations that lead our world and which are full of fun and energy are the ones where there is a sense of share responsibility to deliver value to the business eco-system.

Process discipline, on the other hand is the demonstration of commitment and connectedness of an enterprise in the eco-system in which the business is operating in. The best companies know the importance of this and always ensure that there is no lapse in discipline. There is a high-level of awareness that there is absolutely no room for process complacence.

The game-changer for digital age leaders and boardrooms, though, is knowledge and expertise of datanomics. Without the relevant skills and expertise in datanomics, there is a very high probability that the enterprise systematically makes wrong or even irrelevant decisions. Recent data-breaches are an evidence of this.

If you as a leader intend to make a difference in your organisation and if you certainly do not want your enterprise to be yet another digital age casualty, do invest in this one competency – “datapreneurship”.

This may well be your career’s best decision.

Three Signs Your Enterprise Data Strategy Needs an Overhaul

You waited for the GDPR deadline. It came and went past you on the 25thof May 2018.

But, what about your data strategy? Are you done with it, or you have more work to do.

Well, if you are a digital age leader looking to make best use of your enterprise data, these three introspective questions will help you ascertain if your existing data strategy, will take you into the digital age, or if it needs an overhaul.

Having worked in a variety of sectors, globally, there has been a common theme that emerged over the years in my career, indicating a certain need for a data strategy revamp.

Data strategies in immature organizations, tended to be mere desk ware. However, such companies paid their price. Some even disappeared.

Forward looking leaders though, think and do things differently. And they are a pleasure to watch, when in action. They are usually action takers, results oriented, they mean what they say, and do what they say. They understand that data is a reflection of the business process, which in turn is a reflection of the business model, which in turn is a reflection of the business strategy.

And when this is understood, leaders make themselves accountable and drive their organizations, in a direction that mediocre leaders would not even comprehend, leave alone, act on it.

If you are a leader of action and outcomes, here are three signs for you to consider overhauling your currently known data strategy.

  1. Ownership of data within your enterprise is unclear

In the digital age, there is no excuse for not know who owns the data in your enterprise. It is unacceptable to think that the CEO “owns” all the data. There needs to be clear accountabilities for managing various aspects of enterprise data. Of course, a technology function may be best placed to be responsible for certain data management aspects but for sure, it is naive to think that the matter begins and ends there.

  1. New tools and technologies don’t seem to make life any easier

If you are one of those organization with numerous shiny tools and technologies, but no visibility of immediate and tangible benefits, then you are a certain candidate who is underutilizing your true enterprise data potential.

  1. Organisational trust is low

Finally, if you are in a “low trust” environment, this is clearly a symptom of lack of adequate transparency, which of course data will resolve naturally. Low trust means lack of transparency through data, processes and people.

Enjoying the full potential of a great data strategy is not reserved for the Googles and the Amazons of our world, alone. On the contrary, it is a certain possibility that every organization aspiring to evolve into the digital age, must pursue.

The good news is that it can all start with a sound data strategy and you can overhaul your current data strategy to take your organization to where it truly belongs in the digital age. Your people and your data when combined, will create extra-ordinary outcomes for your enterprise.

Seven types of privacy data your company cannot ignore

This Friday 25th of May 2018, is the day that potentially opens a new chapter in the digital age. It is the day when companies that collect data on citizens in the European Union (EU) will need to comply with the strict new rules around protecting customer data.

It is also a date that begins to test the preparedness of numerous companies and their ability to manage their most important data. i.e., the data about people, specifically their customers.

For months possibly years, companies have been working hard to put their systems and processes in place, in order to comply.

But, are they really ready?

Only time will tell, if a company is really ready. The cost of non-compliance fines could be anything up to €20 million, or 4% of the worldwide annual revenue of the prior financial year, whichever is higher.

Enterprise, can pro-actively prepare to evaluate their progress in complying with GDPR. Here are seven types of privacy data a company can do it’s best to protect and keep private.

  1. Basic identity information such as name, address and ID numbers
  2. Web data such as location, IP address, cookie data and RFID tags
  • Health and genetic data
  • Biometric data
  • Racial or ethnic data
  • Political opinions
  1. Sexual orientation

Going back to the basics of “data management 101”, any customer data is typically treated as Master Data in any reasonably mature enterprise. In reality though, the discipline of Master Data Management has not necessarily been the strength of many companies. Including large household names. This is not surprising at all.

After all, there is a good reason why there are only a few companies who are, disciplined market leaders.

If your company, regardless of it’s size and scale, intends to commit towards becoming a leader in the digital age, then your data is the best bet, along with your people. Data, in effect is the reflection of a business process. When the business processes are well understood and managed, this discipline will naturally be reflected in, mature data management that gives due consideration and resources to manage Master Data relevantly for the digital age.

A starting point office, is to have an enterprise data policy to begin with, that not only helps the enterprise comply with regulations, but equally important is the need to create opportunities for growth in the digital age. The enterprise data policy, should be crafted such that the above seven points are appropriately addressed.

Compliance and growth should go hand in hand. Take care of these seven types of privacy data, and the data will take care of you, in return!

Why The Future of Data Centers Depends on These Six Factors

As enterprises prepare to transform digitally, a key consideration for most large organizations is their data strategy. Specifically, their strategy around where to locate their data centers for the future.

Most business and technology leaders, are already familiar with IDCs forecast of 35 Zettabytes by 2020. That’s certainly old news, now. However, what is interesting is that some business models are starting to consider creating their own data centers.

For example, Walmart has been investing in its own data centers. This investment has not only helped them with the data storage capacity but more importantly, it has made the giant retailer more agile. Agility is a clear winner in the digital age. It’s a key competitive differentiator. Walmart is now able to make over 170000 monthly changes to software that supports it’s website, as compared to the 100 or so changes, previously.

This is significant value added, all because of a better data strategy. Enterprises that claim to have a data strategy but fail to monetize their data, pale in comparison.

But, how good is your current data strategy? Is it something that you can believe in and make a difference to your enterprise and the world, for the long term?

These are questions for the boardrooms and the C-suites.

If your business decides to have its own data center, then according to the data strategy blueprint, you are pursuing ‘data as an asset’. But, for a start where would you locate your data center and what are the parameters to consider?

Here are six key factors to consider for your data center locations.

  1. Energy sources
    • Reliable
    • Cost Stability
  2. Favorable corporate tax rates
    • A climate that is conducive to support business growth in the digital age
  3. Climate suitability
    • Climatic conditions that are relatively less disruptive and more suitable for data center operations
  4. Availability of trainable workforce
  5. Real estate costs
  6. Maturity of the local democratic system

Whilst the first five are easily understood and perhaps manageable through currently know methods and practices, the maturity of a local government that is democratic and functioning in the best interest of its citizen is key. Whether there is an easy acceptance of this or not, ignoring six is likely to pose the biggest business risk. While climatic suitability is also as critical, the whole world is exposed to this risk in any case. And that leaves, the maturity of the local democratic system as a make or break parameter.

A data center in a business model, is a long-term business infrastructure component, that could potentially even outlive the company headquarters, in the digital age. Whilst businesses have to keep an eye on maximizing shareholder’s wealth, they would also do well in investing in communities that would benefit for generations. Ideally, a generation that is mature in managing its governance with freedom based on a sound constitution.

To this end, Vodafone has given us an example by signing an agreementon the 26thof February to create Reykjavik’s first large scale data center, that is to be built in Kroputorg later in 2018.

There are more geographic locations available and you can use the six parameters to evaluate your options.

If your organization needs any help or advice on this matter, The Data Strategy Lab, Switzerland will be able to provide advisory services.

On Course: Ken Knows To Fly. But, He Teaches You To Soar As A Leader.

“My single greatest professional issue I ever faced: learning to lead.” – Ken Pasch.

On Course – become a great leader and soar, by Ken Pasch and published Morgan James, is a must read for anyone who has come to the conclusion that they need to learn to lead.

And who needs to learn? I dare say, everyone. And that too continuously, even if you consider yourself to be a born leader!

In my professional work I have come across a few leaders who believe that leaders are only born and that leadership cannot be learnt, just as they were born leaders, for example. They are perhaps, right. But the only issue that I observed was that, they were their only loyal followers, unsurprisingly though.

“I, me and myself,” were of course, certainly always with them. And this is not uncommon, I am sure you will agree.

Interestingly, all of us tend to show these tendencies at some point in our lives and careers. I certainly have too, and need a constant mechanism to maintain my “personal compass.” Learning to read and mediate has been my tool over the years. And I try and pass this on to everyone I can, as a skill and a habit.

Ken Pasch through his work, shows us that regardless of our past education, previous career experiences, including those “two imposters, both triumph and disaster,”we could find a way to get ourselves to learn to lead. He proves to us that it is certainly within our reach to become leaders through learning, and just in case you were a born leader, you certainly can transcend into becoming a greater and even an extra-ordinary one too.

Yes, many leaders are born with some easily deployable leadership skillsets. But, this is privilege, in my opinion is not reserved only for a few. I personally have numerous examples of people transcending into great leadership positions at various points in their life, some even through and beyond their death.

In early May 2018, I suddenly lost an uncle who helped his wife, my aunt, successfully fight cancer and survive. They fought cancer under some grueling circumstances. Many of us would have probably just given up in resignation. But, they did not.

Both my uncle and my aunt were guiding us and helping us with my dad’s cancer treatment. My dad was diagnosed with cancerous cells in his mouth in early January 2018. He has been undergoing treatment ever since. Thanks to my uncle and aunty’s help and guidance my dad has been showing good progress with this treatment.

My late uncle was not the typical “corporate style”, “flamboyant” leader we usually associate leadership, with. On the contrary, he was neither financially sound, nor was he highly educated. What he did have was a very big heart. He is an example of leadership that transcends beyond life. The kind of leadership that inspires people, even after the person is no more alive. My uncle learnt to be a leader, through the university of life. Clearly, the best school on the planet and that too available to anyone who wants to learn!

When you commit to the goal of learning to lead, you will find a way, in fact, you will find your own way, just as Ken Pasch has found his way by associating leadership with flying.

Through On Course, you will learn to:

  • Unlock, Engage and Optimize your innate potential
  • Become an ACE and address your mentality, your priorities and pursue your purpose with passion
  • Get ready to learn the definition of and steps toward becoming a True Leader, which leads to becoming a Great Leader. There is even a process that helps you develop both.
  • Understand that to serve as a Breakthrough Leader requires, intensity, integrity, and commitment.

As a global data management expert myself, working with leaders in digital transformation pursuits such as cloud and big data adoptions, Chapter 2, which is titled Disengagement and Distractionsis an apt reminder of the need for digital leadership learnings.

Ken highlights the comments of comedian Louis C.K., “If Everything is So Amazing, Why’s Nobody Happy?”

This is exactly the point. The chapter ends with “An Exciting Time”, i.e., to me, my life time and our life time. This life time, our digital age.

Very true. It is an exciting time. The world needs leaders today. And this is an URGENT need, regardless of where you live on planet earth. It needs everyone to learn to lead, through our complex times. It’s not up to a privileged few only, and that’s for sure.

If everyone in authority were a true leader today, well our world would not have been in such a state as we currently know it. Economic uncertainty, political turbulence, our inability to appropriately and collective respond to rapidly changing climate, our inability to act on data to address failing infrastructure needsand man-made disasters, corporate greed, failing human values in organizations and institutions are just a few symptoms of our need for good leadership, in every corner.

With (a) the seven steps to achieving the vision, (b) human dynamics model, (c) five prime values as well as (d) the foundation for success, Ken’s book is an amazing and a must have, in your reading and leadership learning arsenal.

On Course, will lead the way. It does not matter, if you cannot fly as yet. I am certain that Ken will teach you to soar. And, by the way; by the time you read this book, you will be flying anyway!

Great book, Ken. Thanks for sharing your mission with us. It’s a work of art and a labor of love.


Four Reasons For Removing Risk From Your Complex Data Program

In almost every data centric program, the only certainty at the start of the program is “ambiguity.”

Typically, millions of dollars are at stake. Almost in every case, the leadership teams are terribly under-prepared, with their backs to the wall and under tremendous pressure to get things right for their customers, the regulators or other stakeholders. The confusion of having to deal with complex organizational structures, numerous vendors and technologies, does not make matters any easier.

Whether a traditional insurance company wants to do it’s first big data analytics program, or a government agency wants to create person-centric care for its community, the only certainty at the beginning of a multi-million dollar, multi-year program is one thing – “ambiguity!” Not surprisingly, this theme is a constant, across geographies.

My work as data expert and advisor to senior executives and business owners, involves embarking on cloud migrations, GDPR programs, big data analytics, data governance initiatives and many more. When I start the conversation, the only common feature between all those topics are data, people and a whole lot of “ambiguity.”

Over the years, certainly for the past seven years or so, the “Definition of Done” (DoD) has been my best friend, even in the most complex of cultural and technological environments, around the world. I learnt about this when I was reading up on agile methodologies, many years ago. The state of the DoD is a good indicator of the health of any complex program.

Ken Collier’s book, Agile Analytics: Value-Driven Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing was a big help and I came across this many years ago. At that time, it provided a lot of foundational concepts which I happen practice even today. One of them was to Self-Organizing teams. As years past, I have developed my own set of “what works” and for sure, the DoD has never let me down!

Here are four reasons to use a well-articulated “Definition of Done.”

Clarity & Transparency

When a DoD, is expressed over the short, medium and the long term, the involved teams are clear about what is expected of them and there is a great deal of transparency of what is to be expected and also importantly, what not to expect. With Clarity and Transparency comes honest communications and realistic expectations. There are numerous instances when various parties are better placed to challenge each other, positively and realistically.

Confident Teams

A well-articulated DoD gives confidence to the involved teams, as the goals and objectives are realistic and well communicated. Just like the alpine hill climbing approach, teams step from one peak to the next until they finally reach the mountain peak. Needless to say a journey of confident people is always filled with fun.


With high self-confidence there is a natural environment of trust. Team members know, that their team mates care about other’s best interests. Weaker team members are supported by stronger team members, while the weaker team members, naturally support their stronger colleagues positively. Everyone wins, when trust is high.

Get things Done

When you are clear about the goal, and you are filled with confidence and trust, the one natural outcome is that, things get done! And yes, they get done – every time.

Of course, no journey is without risks but when a team of people are committed to achieving the most complex of objectives, the barriers and obstacles dramatically disappear.

It’s not by chance that things get done. But, in fact by design.

The image posted with this post is a simple template which any leader embarking on small, medium or large endeavor can re-purpose. It has worked for me in simple programs involving a couple of people, with a budget of less than hundred thousand dollars to complex programs with over hundreds of people with budgets well in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. I am sure it will serve you well too.

The combination of data and people is a potent force in the digital age. Ensure that your Definition of Done (DoD), takes you where you want to go!