A Different Point of View
The world has changed a lot in the past 20 years. The rise of cloud and API technology has shaped our lives more than most of us realize. As a software engineer who started my business when API technology was fledgling and chased its leading edge since my point of view on the digital transformation is from the inside out.
When I first started my career, I saw the technology and imagined where it would take us. I then spent the better part of the last 20 years helping create the future I had imagined. How that future turned out and where it is going now has surprised and intrigued me as much as anyone.
Here are some of the more salient observations I have been able to make as a pioneer on the digital transformation front.
Data Does Not Lie
How a company manages data says a lot about them. For businesses, the rise of the digital economy and access to new markets comes with a mountain of data. How companies handle that data speaks to their character as an organization on multiple levels. It’s not something they can hide either. Similar to a politician’s voting record, the way a company organizes its data directly relates to their priorities, values, maturity, and even strength of their processes.
- How does a company secure employee and/or customers sensitive data?
- Does a company make an effort to store the birthday/anniversary information for all of its employees to promote a ‘family’ atmosphere?
- How much of a companies data is on-premise compared to the cloud?
- What type of data does it store about its customers and what does it do with that data?
Each of these provides different insights into what a company is made of and it’s often not a perspective average consumers get to see.
People Don’t Mind Giving Up Personal Data
One of the most impactful changes in the past 20 years is something we as consumers are just now starting to grasp. In a digital economy, data is power and probably better looked at as a currency. Not only does personal data allow people/brands to reach out to a target audience but with the right set of big data tools, data can say and predict a lot about that audience as well. Data is precious in our new economy, and people seem far more happy to hand it over, without thinking, than I ever expected.
Not there is anything inherently wrong with providing information to the brands you trust and support. I am more concerned with the normalization of the data exchange process between consumer and brand. It has become almost unavoidable now when shopping to avoid someone asking for information from you. Not just online anymore, but in brick-and-mortar stores too. The rise in popularity of “rewards programs” has every cashier asking me for my phone number before they even say “Hello.”
Facebook and Equifax’s recent data scandals go to show how pervasive and impactful these issues can become. By providing data to so many entities the way we do, we put a lot of trust in their ability to protect us. And with so many entities asking for our data combined with how powerful it can be, it is just a matter of time before data theft and misuse become an issue we have to face.
I’m not sure we can ever stop the stealing and abuse of data, but as consumers, we can become more aware of the situation and become more adamant about whom we give our data to.
Companies Want their Data Right Now
Real-time data is a hot concern for many of the businesses right now. Enterprises want their data in real-time, and they won’t have it any other way.
Real-time data was a promise from the future and one we have successfully fulfilled. The issue is not every use-case calls for real-time data updates. Most data flows are more efficiently moved in batches. Business executives must be bragging to each other at the water cooler over their real-time updates but for most businesses they are unnecessary and waste resources.
I think this may be a symptom of the digital transformation mania currently going on in every IT department. However, I would urge companies to take a more extended look at their data needs before they invest in real-time updates across all of their systems.
Again, these are just some thoughts from someone who’s been behind the scenes and on the front-lines of the data revolution. Take from them what you will. All I could hope for is you find some wisdom from my point of view.
Jeremy McCourt is an content producer in the enterprise software industry that focuses on NetSuite and related cloud-based software solutions.
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