Intelligent SME.tech Issue 15 - Page 21

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// EDITOR ’ S QUESTION ?

ALEX JAMES , CTO AT ASCENT

I t ’ s well-documented that the pandemic has hastened the pace of new technology adoption in line with increasing user and customer expectation , and SMEs in all sectors are scrambling to adapt . Mobilising projects and programmes ( inevitably ‘ digital ’) to build new or improve existing business capabilities is becoming a BAU consideration and a continuous part of natural organisational evolution .

But how do you best increase your chances of success – and accelerate value realisation ? SMEs should consider these key building blocks for success :
Secure board level buy-in : Securing C-suite buy-in will ensure that the project is ( and stays ) aligned to business objectives and ensure cultural investment in the project at a senior level . Clear goals should be established that are linked to your core mission and vision , with measurable KPIs so that performance and progress can be assessed at any point . These goals should be reflected in your data strategy .
Create an effective data strategy : An effective data strategy plays a vital role in developing new digital capabilities ( increasing ‘ trustability ’ of your critical data assets , preparing them for analytic outcomes , reducing risk of leakage or accidental disclosure , helping employees understand how they can surface insight that supports decision making ) – and in many cases inspires the business to think differently .
Any good data strategy should prioritise accessibility for managers and leaders over technical depth – if you make it too long , chances are it will end up as a hefty piece of shelfware . It should however take into account the following five pillars :
1 . People and culture 2 . Technology 3 . Programme and change 4 . Management and governance 5 . Data and analytic capability
Ensure your data strategy supports the business outcomes you are working towards – for example driving revenue , increasing customer value , improving operational process . It should be actionable rather than academic .
Secure the best skills : Attracting and maintaining in-house tech skills is an expensive undertaking in what is currently a highly competitive market – and SMEs more than most face difficult prioritisation challenges when it comes to planning for growth . Partnering for skills is a strong option in this scenario – and choosing a partner who is invested in helping you right-size and bring those skills in-house over time will pay dividends .
Prioritise empathy : Understanding your stakeholders is vital and SMEs have a tremendous opportunity to leverage their size to their advantage . Embedding empathy in your evolving digital proposition now will give you an advantage as you scale : it helps you create a different breed of user , employee and customer relationship founded on trust and loyalty – and is really hard to reverse engineer .
Connect digital capabilities with purpose : Having a business purpose that goes beyond profit has never been more relevant and increasingly socially and environmentally aware consumers are turning their backs on brands that fail to live up to expectation .
In today ’ s evolving technology market , connecting data , software and purpose is the most successful way to deliver on business objectives .

AN EFFECTIVE DATA STRATEGY PLAYS A VITAL ROLE IN DEVELOPING NEW DIGITAL CAPABILITIES .
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