​“In some ways, the term “digital transformation” can be a little misleading. To many people, the word “transformation” can imply change with some kind of finality – that once we’ve managed the change, that’s it, we’re done, and we’re ready to reap the benefits for years to come.” Bernard Marr

I read a piece by Bernard Marr, the best-selling author, keynote speaker, strategic business & technology advisor, and contributor to the World Economic Forum, recently. His opening paragraph resonated.

We’ve all spent the last few months completely focused on dealing with “this change” — the pandemic. However, despite businesses completely transforming their operations – look at JJ Foodservice who launched same-day home delivery, or DCS changing a whole factory over to producing hand sanitizer – we’re not done transforming yet.

As Marr points out, transformation is constant, and especially in this industry, we’re never going to be “finished”.

“Resilient to the impact of change”

That means that companies need to be “resilient to the impact of change” rather than reactive to each change that comes along. Particularly with data and digital. For many in our industry, they’ve been an also-ran, a secondary thought. But if we’re going to become resilient to change, we need to use the tools at our disposal to get ahead of the changes that are happening — and will keep happening — and use them to our advantage.

According to Bernard Marr’s article, this means that we need to ensure our data infrastructures are resilient enough to be able to assist us when change arises.

Can you say that about your data and digital infrastructures? 

In a recent deep-dive we conducted of most major UK wholesale and symbol groups’ e-commerce offerings, we found the majority had large gaps in functionality, user experience, and implementation of personalisation. And, as noted in last week’s TWC Talks: you’re losing money by not utilising accurate data, 25% of businesses with over 500 employees have lost customers due to incomplete or inaccurate data.

In his article, Marr says that “opportunities to collect and analyze data will come at us faster than ever, and that data will come in an increasing variety of unstructured forms. Enterprises will sink or swim by their ability to adapt to this changing paradigm, and their choice of tools, platforms, and partnerships will be more important than ever.”

As Salih Sheikh pointed out in his Digital Leadership series in conjunction with TWC, no transformation should take place without using data to analyse the current situation and to make future projections. We’ve already been forced into one business transformation this year, and with others clearly still to come, data, and how we access it should be at the forefront of our minds.

The time is now…

Now is the time to look at your platforms and data centres and ensure they’re ready to face this new reality. Some considerations you might want to take into account:

  • Is it cloud-based? Can you access the platform from anywhere, should you or your team need to work from home?
  • Is it visual? We recently wrote a piece about the importance of Data Visualisation for getting to the killer facts, you might want to check it out.
  • Can you configure it? What works for the wholesaler or retailer down the road is unlikely to work exactly for you. Make sure your platforms are configurable to your exact needs.
  • Does it provide insights? Having mountains of data is useless unless it can provide you with real, actionable insights. Find a platform that can help you navigate what your data means so you can actually put it to use.
  • Is it reliable? There’s no point having a data system that’s down a quarter of the time. Pick a system that you can rely on to be available whenever you need it.
  • Are your data feeds set up to help you to recognise WHEN to ‘change’, quicker and sooner than your competitors?
  • Is it scalable and adaptable as well as configurable? Your needs will evolve and, hopefully, your business will grow – your systems need to be able to change with you.

The above questions are ones we strive every day to answer yes to at TWC. Our platforms are built and executed by wholesale and retail industry experts with users at the forefront. They allow wholesalers and retailers to ‘cut to the chase’ and get information quickly that can be used to navigate change.

Clean data, actionable insights, reliability, and industry knowledge are the foundations of a good data platform that can help you plan for the business transformations of the future, whatever they may be.

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