Capgemini: building resilient enterprises with data
Change happens in a split second. Organisations of all sizes must be ready to navigate through uncertainties and be prepared for the unexpected when major developments occur.
Accessing the right data, at the right time, is essential to limiting business disruption, especially at a time where a global pandemic has caused a great deal of instability.
If anything, the pandemic has given people time to reassess their current architectures, and many have discovered their existing data processes are more of an obstacle than an enabler. Trustworthy data, therefore, is a key enabler for building resilient enterprises. The challenge lies in accessing it as quickly or efficiently as businesses need to.
When data isn’t being managed correctly – whether it is siloed, inconsistent, of poor quality, or even in breach of privacy legislations like GDPR – it undermines the ability of organisations to adapt to changing times. In turn, this can lead to misleading or misconstrued insights.
The key to success lies with trusted data. Without it, data fails to provide meaningful insights that empower action. But what does trusted data mean, and how can organisations know how to ensure their data is trustworthy? What do they need to do to make this change and use it to support and resolve business challenges?
Recognising potential blockages
Data often lacks clarity due to blockages caused by pre-existing IT landscapes and legacy processes. These prevent businesses from having a clear view over what information they hold and where it’s being stored. Challenges then arise when companies trust and use this data to make game-changing decisions without recognising that it is incomplete or left open to interpretation. If an organisation is to unlock the true potential of its data in a way that’s transparent and trustworthy, it must guarantee it can handle the basic elements of data management.
Trusted data needs to be drawn from selected sources, adapted in accordance with the data’s intended use and delivered in formats and time frames that are appropriate to the business and its customers. To achieve this, businesses must ensure they’re able to maintain a healthy, preferably automated, data pipeline that leaves little room for error. From reassessing how their data is sourced, stored (securely), handled and governed, they will be able to engender trust and start using their data as the foundation for transformation.
Modernising the data estate is key
The need for speed and agility has been heightened by COVID-19; if businesses are to act fast, they need to consider modernisation of their data estate. You may think that a time of crisis is the wrong moment to think about this, because of the effort involved, but organisations simply won’t be able to successfully navigate an ostensibly altered business landscape without change. This can only come from proactively building a trustworthy data supply chain.
Updating and reforming the data estate enables businesses to get back on track faster and more effectively. By democratising data, enterprises can seize the opportunities of transformation: creating a secure, trusted, ethically managed and constantly evolving asset that is available across the whole organisation.
Companies must establish a set framework that addresses the capabilities and methodologies needed to bring everything together. Using multi-sourced data they can leverage technologies like robotics, intelligent automation, and artificial intelligence. Businesses can then move away from operations-focused, limited value data initiatives and build the foundation for an enterprise-wide, data-first approach – a platform that will typically be based on a next generation, hybrid cloud architecture.
Organisations will soon be operating under a hybrid multi-cloud environment. The sooner they strategically address the data orchestration and management challenges of their wider digital transformation, the higher their chances for success.
Use data to drive action
The value and operational benefits that result from modernising data estates are unequivocal. Building resilience requires bettering many different aspects of the business, from fostering a culture of responsibility and empowerment, to adopting a lexicon for digital transformation. The most crucial element to this, however, is establishing a secure and trusted data pipeline to fuel effective decision-making.
When used correctly, data can inform and enable a resilient business. Operating at a level of transparency and agility that makes data trustworthy is what will empower reliable and game-changing decision-making. That is why we should be using this time to embrace change and become a data-powered enterprise to successfully mitigate challenges in the future.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”