Need for digital speed

The coronavirus pandemic could spell the end of long-term digital transformation projects that span five years or more. Customer data is crucial to enabling faster digitalisation with better results


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The notion of a five-year digital transformation programme, supported by a plethora of costly professional services partners, is one that has prevailed for much of the last decade. Rightly or wrongly, businesses felt they had the luxury of time to advance their digital strategy and decide the best way to build new systems, utilising the right tools.

With the sudden emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, any idea that a business can wait years to reap the rewards of digitalisation have evaporated. Although people’s behaviours were already evolving at a steady pace towards digital channels and platforms, COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated that. By forcing migration to online, the pandemic has meant companies needed to build digital competencies extremely quickly.

In a recent study by Twilio, UK businesses said COVID-19 has speeded up their digital transformation goals by an average of 5.3 years. To achieve these ambitious objectives and reach their desired digital state as quickly as possible, organisations are realising customer data utilisation is key.

If you’re going to spend two years on a project, you’ll be left far behind

“Anyone can implement a tool or embark on a project and deliver that successfully, but the only way of really measuring it and driving businesses forward is by basing it on data,” says Jonathan von Abo, head of business development, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at Treasure Data, whose customer data platform (CDP) provides the ability to aggregate, unify and analyse massive volumes of scattered and siloed data.

“Everyone’s been collecting data and owns big data. It’s now an age of data activation because having it is one thing, but actually being able to use it, and in real time, is another. That’s the game-changer.

“Data was historically used to analyse past behaviours and then applied to the next behaviour. But the timeframe was one to two months, looking at what happened last month to decide what to do next month. That doesn’t stack up in today’s digital economy. The challenge is how to gain real insights and make data-driven decisions in real time.

“Companies are understanding more now that while they have loads of systems with rich, independent data sets, what they really need to understand is the entire customer lifecycle behaviour, so they can respond to a customer’s needs at the right time in the right manner. That is the ultimate pressing need and now more so than ever before.”

Treasure Data infographic

Organisations invariably have multitudes of different data stores in multiple types, formats and languages. With Treasure Data’s platform, companies are able to take data, regardless of where it’s from or what format it’s in, and bring it into the CDP system unchanged. Its seamless approach means organisations don’t have to go through the technical challenges to understand the data structures of disparate systems that are holding data.

Businesses no longer have the time to jump through those technical hurdles, especially in the current business environment. With the rapid digital acceleration, organisations need to access data and build insights quickly. Whereas projects used to have timelines running into months and years, now it’s days and weeks. Treasure Data helps companies bring their customer data together in a short time and to make it actionable.

“We were born out of making data actionable,” says von Abo. “From day one, that was the brief. Treasure Data’s founders started building a CDP before CDP was even a term. It was a big-data machine that could take large volumes of data and turn it into something that was useful and actionable, in the shortest time possible. We’ve stuck to that mindset over the last ten years and our focus remains on bringing together data and all the elements of a customer engagement journey into one single record.

“Our goal is to be best of breed in terms of that data cleansing and data consolidation, and then making the customer data available in very rich or precise segments to other best-of-breed tools. While we’re now seeing data warehouse players and data activation channels trying to pivot into the data collection and normalisation space, we’re in the best position to deliver that capability because we’ve been doing it for such a long time.”

It’s now an age of data activation… being able to use it, and in real-time, that’s the game changer

As customer data continues to grow in the post-COVID age, companies require the flexibility, agility and ability to scale alongside that. As an enterprise data platform, Treasure Data’s CDP tool is built with scalability and security at the forefront. The company utilises open source technology and all its methodologies are developed to enable it to scale with the needs of its customers. As a cloud-based platform, it is also easier and more cost effective to scale up or down as required.

The COVID-enforced way of working is unlikely to go away for some time and, even if it eventually does, the broader impacts of the pandemic on digital strategies will not reverse. In this environment, organisations embarking on large business transformation projects that take years to consult around, plan and implement are likely to suffer.

“I don’t think this acceleration is going to stop once COVID subsides,” says von Abo. “As a result, companies need to be a lot more targeted and specific about which areas of the business they need to optimise, and they’re going to try and do them in much quicker sprints. If you’re going to spend two years on a project, you’ll be left far behind. By the time you’ve eventually deployed, the market will have already moved on.

“Organisations are also looking a lot more differently at their technology stacks. They’re increasingly wanting options that provide the greatest level of flexibility as the business landscape continues to change. Tools like ours deliver that flexibility by bringing other best-of-breed technologies in and making it easy to work with different data sets without having to change the way you hold your data or how you capture or activate it. That’s going to be the future.”

For more information please visit treasuredata.com