Navigating global data ambitions

Navigating global data ambitions

The expertise that helps businesses navigate their global data ambitions

Without expert guidance, the right knowledge, and relevant insights, any global business can take a wrong turn when it comes to deciding what it needs for the next stage of its path towards data-driven digital maturity.

Businesses can see their volumes of data are expanding and know they must unlock more value from it, but are uncertain what the best approach is when there are so many platforms and solutions out there. 

This is especially true if businesses want to enter, or have made acquisitions in, areas with less familiar IT landscapes. A new acquisition may bring with it new technologies and a plethora of applications and thousands of users spread across sites in multiple time zones. 

For example, a global business operating in the chemicals sector may have many highly complex processes that generate data, which the business must analyse if it is to expand operations or innovate efficiently while keeping control of costs. Each country may well have its own approach to data, its capture and protection, which the business must examine and accommodate, even after a solid due diligence process. Where there has been a merger or acquisition, timescales can be very demanding as the business wants to take advantage of the new capabilities it has acquired; new technologies, a new manufacturing plant or facility, perhaps with a specific deadline on the horizon. During this process, the business may find it has multiple versions of what appears to be “the truth” from its mass of data. This can cripple its ability to understand its global operations, undermine confidence in data and inhibit its planned innovation. 

It is often the case that businesses have relatively small IT departments, with an emphasis on agility and responsiveness. When they want to extract much more value from their data and improve the entire business’s response to new challenges and opportunities, it is very taxing for lean IT teams to know which vendors and solutions to adopt, given the complexities involved. Sometimes personal bias and focused product knowledge can lead to choosing the wrong path. It can be tempting to default to incumbent vendors because of the underlying infrastructure they are already using. Additionally, big names in data and IT often generate much hype about themselves, and for business leaders, choosing a familiar brand often seems less risky. 

But before making any decisions, any business with a global presence must first set out its roadmap and examine in detail what it wants from data. Is the problem more one of sharing existing insights or is something more fundamental required – an entirely new platform or data strategy perhaps? In many cases, a hybrid vendor strategy can be adopted, but it's often difficult to stay aware of the best practices and technologies to achieve a streamlined platform.

The critical difference that third-party expertise can deliver

This is where objective external expertise counts. With third-party expertise, a business can gain a faster understanding of the systems and solutions it must deal with for data management and analytics and how to build a strategy to refine the IT landscape to better address business requirements. This may well expose an urgent requirement for modernisation, with duplicate systems inflicting unnecessary costs. And there are alternatives to the ‘Big 5’. These alternative consultancies, who have the same accreditations, can sometimes offer a more agile and responsive working relationship.

External advice and support from these specialist, experienced consultancies can augment stretched IT and business teams and can lead key initiatives to analyse and clarify the value of existing systems, leading to a rationalised and modernised data platform, specifically suited to supporting business use cases. Beyond that, there is an increasing need for global businesses to start sharing and monetising data across a wider ecosystem of customers, partners and suppliers. Supply chain data, for example, has never been more critical to success, given the complexity and interconnectedness of so many trading processes and their vulnerability to global events and shortages. Consultancies have a role in navigating businesses through these complex data challenges. They will understand the business strategy and then align the right solutions.  

A global business that has pushed hard on cloud-migration may now find, with outside help, that costs are unnecessarily high, or that it is in danger of making the wrong choices. Perhaps it is not necessary for every piece of data to enter costly cloud storage, and some should be retained locally or on-premises, within the business function. What businesses want to avoid is the cost and sclerotic complexity of having vital information inaccessible in multiple, poorly connected locations – the siloed data that inhibits the analytics that drive innovation and cost-optimisation.

Consulting partners will get under the skin of the business and run everything from assessments to roadmaps, including proof of value exercises to bring the business stakeholders into the process at the earliest opportunity, while at the same time, reaching an understanding of the corporate strategy. With this knowledge of the customer in place, a good consultant will challenge them and advise on the right technology mix, with a focus based on the business’s data requirements.

Depending upon the business’s starting point and data maturity, it should also encompass the adoption of new technologies, such as AI and machine learning, encompassing data captured as part of new business or manufacturing processes, allowing the business to deliver on the promise of greater business agility and a sustainable future data roadmap.  

That may involve testing the innate conservatism of a business, possibly due to a mixture of long-standing relationships and fear of the unknown, making it easier to purchase from an existing supplier. However, there should never be an automatic assumption that the business is going to buy all its tools from one single vendor. Instead, the best way forward is always to understand the problem, define the desired outcome, then find the right technology or technologies to achieve business goals. This is also true of choosing the consulting business to work with. Delaware offers “a good fit for clients seeking an alternative to a Big 5 consulting company”. As one of 11 global businesses to hold both SAP Platinum and Microsoft Cloud Solution and Azure Expert MSP awards, we work closely with business teams to assess the business perspective and technical landscape, aligning experts with the right blend of technical knowledge, industrial expertise and an innovative approach that resonates best with the prevailing company culture.

Cost and innovation

Moving beyond this modernisation process though and armed with a new open mindset that enables them to embrace different kinds of technology from a plethora of different vendors, businesses will be well placed to take advantage of a wide range of next-generation software. They can put in place a connected data platform that enables them to gain greater insights or refine their businesses based upon trusted, accurate and governed data that business leaders and professionals can trust!

With the process of transformation and modernisation well under way, businesses can implement next-generation business applications that enable the creation of new products and processes, accelerating operational excellence and value creation. They can implement automation and advanced intelligence to boost productivity and reduce costs. 

Business users can exploit the (now) more readily available modern integrated, low or no code techniques and solutions, allowing them to gain insights from integrated data captured at source and to visualise, analyse and act on these massive amounts of data in real time, improving accurate decision-making about operations in a timelier fashion.  Businesses will know they have the best and most effective platform for their current needs and evolving strategy. 

Therefore, with the right combination of the right support, knowledge and relevant insights, you can achieve the next stage of data-driven digital maturity and attain that elusive single version of the truth - without a mountain of costs. 


Article written by Steve Cowell

Director at Delaware UK & Ireland & Head of Data Analytics & AI 

About Delaware

Delaware is a global consultancy that partners with leading technology providers such as SAP and Microsoft to deliver advanced digital solutions. 

Our mission is to help our clients reach their full potential, by applying the Delaware approach, coupled with our business experience and passion for technology.

We develop, innovate and implement technology transformations, guiding our clients towards an intelligent future.

we commit. we deliver.