AdobeStock_247195247_TwitterIndustry 4.0, a new hope…

It is a period of intense economic rivalry…

New entrants, leveraging the power of global cloud services, have won their first victory against mature incumbents…

During the engagement, the new entrants were made aware of the incumbents' common key weakness; their fractured enterprises, with silos of data disconnected between departments, IT and operations…

Pursued by the incumbents' competitive intelligence teams, the new entrants race back to their home offices, custodians of the information that can accelerate their company’s growth…

Okay, so I have unreservedly adopted the seminal Star Wars narrative for the situation we are finding ourselves in today, but the similarities are striking. Fiction often precedes fact.

Be sensitive to the force

"It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together," stated Obi-Wan describing the force. In today’s world the same could be said of the fluid flow of data that allows everything and everyone to work together. It is this force that has kept the lights on during global lockdowns, accelerated vaccine development and allowed homes to be turned into temporary offices and schools.

But just like padawans, being force-sensitive is not the same as mastering the force. Becoming a Jedi master takes years of effort, dedication, and focus. So, too, can this be said of enterprises who have not been able to use their data to guide them. It takes a series of transformations to align, liberate and operationalize the data, but the outcome can make the enterprise transcend its market.

What good are these transformations?

  • You will be able to detect and resolve issues before they occur.
  • You can rapidly morph business processes to respond to new opportunities.
  • You will connect and inter-connect partners to accelerate their success, and in so doing, your own.

The force is strong with the data-driven enterprise. Even more, perhaps the data-driven enterprise is the macro representation of force-sensitive individuals. This is especially true if you agree with Forbes’ description of data-driven enterprises being those that incorporate live data into the entirety of the enterprise’s decision-making process to find the most effective solution faster. Automation of this decision-making process through data analytics and AI is a catalyst for every enterprise to reach its full potential, with McKinsey reporting that those considered to be advanced AI adopters are 52% more likely to use AI to increase their market share.

CDOs: Jedi masters

Our Jedi masters in this macro environment, are the Chief Data Officers, who are now present in 65% of the blue-chip enterprises in Harvard Business Review’s 2021 Big Data and AI survey. They are charged with directing the changes necessary to transform an enterprise. However, of the 92% of enterprises that reported the pace of investment accelerating, only 29% reported having achieved transformational business outcomes. And 81% of firms cited cultural challenges as the greatest impediment to success. “That’s not how the force works!” as Han Solo might say.

It’s not surprising that culture is resisting the change, with MIT Sloan reporting that only 20% of enterprises empower their frontline workers with data. People need to feel the benefits, to touch them, to understand them.

Paying homage to the Zatoichi Blind Swordsman, the character Chirrut Imwe probably makes the most applicable statement: “I’m one with the force, the force is with me”. Each and every employee needs to be data literate, speaking the same language as a fundamental part of the same business functions. In 2018, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 80% of organizations will initiate deliberate competency development in the field of data literacy. With the business changes triggered by the pandemic in 2020, it would be interesting to know if that target was achieved.

The data-driven enterprise is perceived by many to be the panacea for organizational agility, efficiency, and innovation. The journey to this may have many challenges.

“Remember, a Jedi’s strength flows from the force. But beware: Anger, fear, aggression – the dark side, are they,” as Yoda may say about the potential resistance from overlooked employees during the transformation.

If you want to be a Jedi, it takes a lot of training, studying and dedication. There’s no weekend Jedi course. You can’t take an online light-saber webinar. You have to be 100% committed to the cause, always learning, and improving. But the spoils are amazing!

"May the fourth be with you."

Be a Jedi

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