Data: The New Currency to Unlock Competitive Advantage

If you’re a company operating in 2023 with strong growth aspirations, data is either your competitive advantage or a yet-to-be-fully-tapped asset.

Data has become such an important lever for growth that companies across every industry are investing huge sums to jump-start programs, accelerate capabilities and unlock once hidden opportunities to capitalize on their troves of insights.

Why? Simply put, it’s where companies can create operational efficiencies, drive automation, develop deep customer personalization, manage supply chains, forecast inventory or do just about anything else with better precision.

And that’s the game that is at stake: how to leverage a company’s primary asset to drive top-line performance and increase operating margins. The topic of ‘data’ is a top conversation topic across board rooms and in and around the halls of senior management.

Data today is every company’s new currency, and I’ll explain why in this article. I will also share the burning platform behind smart data adoption and use, and why it can become a real game-changer for leaders to generate value for their enterprise, regardless of company size, industry and product base.

A transformative impact across any industry

In recent years we’ve witnessed a huge transformation of traditional, product-based industries into services, or ‘servitization’ models where capabilities like IoT and AI power cutting-edge new business models and revenue streams. Consider industries as diverse as commercial elevators to home appliances and even the latest in automobiles. So many consumer and business facing products are tech enabled, and this pervasive inter-connectivity has altered business models for these industries and many others. And it’s all powered through highly-advanced uses of data.

While these are far advanced use cases, regardless of the industry you operate in, and the product or service you sell, data underpins almost everything your business does. It’s become clearer than ever that curating enterprise insights needs to be considered at the strategic level and has fast become an equalizer to stay competitive in today’s digital-first world. It has deep applicability across almost every type of business and can be a game-changer for the bold and ambitious.

In our ongoing conversations with business and tech leaders, we are seeing a rapid rise in organizations wanting to manage data as a discrete topic, as many now view it as one of the core functions of their business, alongside marketing, sales, finance, operations, technology, and people. Simply put, strategic data adoption can have a transformative impact on how even a small or immature business operates.

Data is pervasive across your enterprise

Even if not yet fully utilized, data is such a critical enabler to future growth and operational performance it can no longer be overlooked. It’s everywhere across the organization, thanks to the diverse technology backbones that run most companies – and it is likely a treasure trove of assets waiting to be tapped into.

Think about the basics that power an enterprise today – rich data sets from things like employee milestones, sales processes, online ordering activity, financial controls and revenue recognition events. These all generate deep and useful insights that are at the heart of a company’s operation – and most, if not all, are captured in processes powered by existing technology. Human resources use payroll and human capital systems. Sales and marketing use lead generation, web content management and customer relationship management systems. For contracting and financials there are contract lifecycle management and enterprise resource planning systems. There are numerous systems and processes in an organization that create data for managers to leverage.

In tandem, data itself can be viewed as its own ‘product,’ working in the same way. There is a deep landscape of technology for data centers around warehouses and business intelligence (BI) systems that are powered through the cloud with vendors such as Snowflake and hyper-scalers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Data and the underlying processes to utilize it, can and should become part of the core business operation to open a new window of insights that could unlock something that was previously unimaginable. While sometimes IT is thought of as an engine room (e.g., out of sight out of mind), it is no longer the place for these topics to reside, as it will likely remain understaffed and underutilized.

If it becomes front and center on the leadership agenda it can fundamentally change the way your company operates.

Leveraging the power of data technology

In building on these thoughts, leveraging data technology can be applied to any aspect of the business, and can have a rich and meaningful impact when implemented smartly.

Less mature companies are not using margin analysis to run their business and are flying blind without the proper data to make informed decisions. For others, this can be as simple as creating consolidated operational reporting across disparate business units.

Standing up a modern data technology infrastructure – with a visualization tool like Tableau, PowerBI, or Looker – is a great way to show the real power of what it can bring. Data then quickly goes from raw numbers to something very usable and meaningful.

When a visual is well crafted (showing helpful comparisons, real causality, external context, clear labels, multiple variables, documented authorship) it can become a thing of true beauty. Its impact can help leaders change the way they run the business – adding not only more precision to key processes, but by simply providing rich insights that can foster better decision-making. This can also extend to the front-lines, with easy-to-use insights and charts touching front-line employees to complement their ways of working with real-time analytics.

Unlock untapped potential

In summary, data is a critical organizational asset that can create value at scale to help managers to be highly effective leaders. It’s not necessarily about using data to power connected products or drive deep customer personalization for your online store (it certainly can do this!), but more in finding tactical or unoptimized parts of the business that can benefit from real-time insights.

Even if you are very immature in your adoption and thinking in this space, the opportunity is ripe to start your journey and unlock the immense untapped potential that may exist in your organization. At Cuesta, we help organizations of all types leverage data for competitive advantage. Reach out to us today to discover how we can help you along in your journey.

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