May 19, 2020

How data is becoming the lynchpin at the very heart of businesses

Digital Transformation
Data
Technology
Kerry Jarred, founder and MD o...
5 min
How data is becoming the lynchpin at the very heart of businesses

Kerry Jarred, founder and MD of Ignium, explains that to understand employee engagement and the level of engagement a business has with their staff, leaders need to unlock their data and utilise it much more effectively to ensure their culture is a successful one. 

According to Gartner, transforming into a digital business is the number one priority for most organisations. In fact, a brief look at Gartner’s Top Insights for the C-Suite, 2018-2019 edition, highlights that we have reached a tipping point, in terms of digitally driven businesses, for both the private and public sector.

Before we jump into the numbers what on earth are we talking about? Everyone seems to throw the term digital or data-driven around these days but what does it actually mean to businesses and how can they take advantage of it? 

Several years ago, everyone talked about Business Intelligence (BI) and how thanks to advances in technology, software, apps and the adoption of cloud services, that we would suddenly be able to collect huge amounts of data on and about our companies. Fast forward five years and we finally have the means to interrogate this sea of data or, as some would prefer to call it, our data lake. It’s not all meaningless numbers; we can assess in real-time stock, servicing levels and times, peak sales periods and identify our best salesperson (and our worst). We have finally reached the data summit!

From this viewpoint we can start to get an incredible insight into how every aspect of our business operates. And with that insight comes the opportunity to make better and more informed decisions about the day to day running of our organisations. We can see what’s effective and what’s not and intelligently ascertain why our services and people are performing well or badly.

Now this isn’t the machines taking over. This is about embracing the very best of digital transformation, gaining actionable insights and using those to drive tangible business outcomes. 

Key stakeholders need to embrace the data in front of them and use the insights intelligently to transform their organisational strategy. In 2016 McKinsey published a paper highlighting how businesses were adapting to an era of more data-driven decision making yet struggling to develop talent, business processes and organisational muscle to capture real value from analytics. While technology itself was making major leaps forward, humans were struggling to keep up with the ride.

Move on now to late 2019 and we’re finding that companies are starting to mature and appreciate how the data impacts their culture. Provider of organisation insights and Ignium partner, Temporall, believes that organisational health and a high-performance culture is unique to each company and that in order to measure these things accurately, it needs to continually capture true insights into the sentiments of an organisation’s workforce.

As Temporall founder and CEO, Thomas Davies explains, “By utilising real time data signals collected through the tools your workforce is already using, we are able to create a continuous insight feedback loop which supports both C-suite decision making and engages everyone throughout organisations through a true digital experience.”

The one size fits all approach no longer works. In fact, did it ever? Businesses shouldn’t simply have a ‘great’ culture, today’s workforce is looking for more than sterile and ambiguous employers. What does the company they work for actually stand for and do the stakeholders lead by example? For example, Microsoft is built on a culture of growth, Salesforce on customer obsession and Google a culture of innovation that ripples down from the very top of the organisation. This is how today’s successful businesses engage and retain their talent.

A recent Glassdoor survey found that companies with a highly engaged workforce are 21% more profitable than those with poor engagement and companies with great experiences outperform the Standard and Poor’s 500 by 122%

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To understand the level of engagement of your employees, you need insights.  Insights into what your people really think, feel, … believe.  Employee engagement surveys have long been seen as the primary tool to measure organisational culture but now with the likes of Temporall, businesses can unlock their data to do so much more. And this is the next level of maturity for businesses. Using the insight to create a cultural change and focus is of paramount importance.

Culture can, and should, be an intrinsic part of organisational strategy.  We are not talking about a business’s corporate wallpaper; it isn’t just represented by the words written behind the reception desk.  Culture should be seen in how people behave across the organisation in real time, not just when the light is shining on them. As is often quoted culture is ‘what people do when no one is looking!’ 

In our view, leaders can only do that if they truly understand their people; what they think, what motivates them, and what they believe.  Gartner predict that by 2022, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency required of their people. 

I can’t think of many organisations who don’t want to be more collaborative, more aligned, communicate better and improve trust, levels of employee engagement and accountability.  You don’t have to be a CEO or have an MBA to understand how all of those things – when executed well and are truly embedded into the culture – can lead to greater financial returns.   

For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Europe

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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

GfK
VMware
3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.  

In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade. 

“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.

Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.

By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.

One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.

“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.

Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs. 

“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.

The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment. 

The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.

One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.

“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.

“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client. 

“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”

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