I have not blogged about this subject for some time (check out my other articles) and this morning in the Globe and Mail there is a great op-ed piece by Kevin Lynch, Vice Chair of BMO Financial Group and Munir Sheikh a Distinguished fellow at Queen’s University. The piece is titled Wanted: culture of innovation.
The piece is an easy and quick read so do check it out. The piece highlights two issues that are paramount in my mind, digital literacy and organizational innovation. The two are inseparable as without digital literacy, organizational innovation does not happen it is very simple. Why is digital literacy so important and becoming increasingly critical to business adaptability and ultimately survivability. Ask any business owner and they will tell you they are increasingly dealing with ever greater volumes of digital data. That data to be useful needs to be parsed integrated and ultimately analysed. But here is the issue. If the middle management you have in place doesn’t understand or even grasp the available technology to parse and integrate that data then how on earth is a company going to be able to analyse that data and see trends and patterns before they get broadsided? They may hire a consultant or like most business they go about their merry way and put it off, or worse yet find a cheap stop gap solution that in the end does nothing of much value except cost. Easy to ignore what you don’t see or understand until you get whacked in the head. In today’s world we increasingly trade on the currency of digital data. If that data is dirty, inconsistent, or poor the downstream effects are huge no matter the size of the supply chain.
Take a small business that sells products over the web. The order is placed by the customer; an automated email goes out saying hey thanks! The order on the back side gets printed out and rekeyed manually into an internal system. The clerk makes a mistake and the wrong item ships out. So the downstream affect is twofold. The first, the customer receives the wrong product – you have a customer service issue. The product then has to be returned and the correct one shipped. The web store just lost a whole ton of money on the sale. This is simple example.
I can recite countless of examples of similar cases we have seen however the common thread is a lack of organizational innovation. Any organizational innovation that involves data integration will have profound impacts on productivity but there needs to be an embracing by management of all aspects of data integration and it can’t be looked at strictly as a cost. Data integration is not strictly an IT issue; it is an organizational issue so by default it requires a level of digital literacy amongst those players who are not from IT. Why is this so critical? Very simply if management doesn’t understand or is unable to grasp the concepts and implications and views data integration simply as a cost then innovation doesn’t happen and productivity doesn’t increase.
This month we launched Integration TV as a mechanism to help educate business owners and middle management on the importance of data integration and the innovation and productivity benefits of doing data integration correctly. We are hoping this will have an impact and wide reach as we feel it is critically important. So help us spread the word! That’s our call to action.