As one of the biggest buzzwords ever to envelop the business world, digital transformation (DX) has had a monumental impact on companies in all sectors over the last few years.
And its influence is showing no signs of diminishing. An IDC study (opens in new tab) found that DX is at the top of the agenda for the majority of European organisations. Massive investments are being made into digital projects and nearly two-thirds (63%) of CEOs are under significant pressure to execute a successful DX strategy.
But despite their best efforts, 76% of businesses remain in the lowest three levels of digital maturity – digital resister, digital explorer and digital player – implying that their exertions haven’t been sufficient to achieve the ultimate objective of enterprise-wide transformation.
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They are facing a digital deadlock, with no concrete strategy in place to keep up with their competitors in a constantly shifting landscape.
So, what’s the solution? How can businesses go about overcoming this dilemma? Well, the first step is to take a holistic view of the business and implement an integrated approach to digital transformation where the key stakeholders are aligned in the process.
This is especially true when it comes to data. Breaking down silos is a major part of DX, as it provides the foundation for an integrated strategy and gives businesses the insight needed to develop new products and services.
But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Making sure this data can be trusted – that there is a single version of the truth – is critical to solving business challenges and ensuring a successful transformation.
The need for trust
Enabling a seamless flow of information is critical to helping businesses grow and transform but presents vulnerabilities in the infrastructure. It’s well documented that that amount of data being collected by modern businesses, from a combination of applications, platforms and sensors, is causing security issues.
From a transformation perspective, being able to trust that this data is secure and that it hasn’t been tampered with, is therefore more important than ever.
Trust is also central to letting firms partner with confidence. According to IDC, fostering strategic partnerships to generate joint value is key to capturing a larger share of the digital opportunity. In today’s digital world, it’s difficult to acquire all the capabilities needed to satisfy the market appetite for innovation, thereby making collaboration with third-parties the most effective way to keep up with shifting market demands.
This means organisations need to be prepared to take a partner-driven approach and exchange data with internal and external stakeholders. They need to find new ways of plugging into industry ecosystems to deliver more value to their customers.
However, the challenge is that traditional data-sharing methods such as emails and file sharing platforms provide very little visibility into how the information is handled. Once the data leaves the business, it is impossible to control who has access to it and what they do with it. Ultimately, it leads to a lack of control, trust, and traceability.
This is where blockchain technology is changing the game. Blockchain as a business enabler provides the trust and security that businesses so desperately need, helping to enable strategic partnerships by allowing organisations to expose sensitive date securely based on established credentials.
Exchanges of digital and physical assets are stored chronologically in an immutable system of records. This system is then secured with a cryptographic technology that is extremely difficult to tamper with or corrupt.
In layman terms, the data can’t be inappropriately modified, it can’t be shared with people who aren’t explicitly given access to it and there is an undisputable historical record of the transfer of assets. And it’s not just partnerships where the advantages of blockchain are clear to see.
When thinking about why they should implement blockchain technology, there are three main benefits for businesses to consider.
The first is establishing data provenance, i.e. gaining full visibility and control of how information is used. Not only does this minimise the risk of fines for non-compliance with data protection and cybersecurity regulations, it also improves customer trust and, as previously mentioned, offers an increased ability to establish strategic partnerships with third parties.
Secondly, having access to a holistic view of the data increases the accuracy of the information used to make operational and executive decisions. This increases the speed of decision making, makes it easier to identify opportunities to generate operational efficiencies, while also reducing the costs associated with data sharing.
Finally, blockchain technology lets companies transition their business models through open and secure data management strategies. This provides enhanced opportunities for data monetisation and increases customer satisfaction by offering full control of the data.
With all these factors in mind, it’s clear that the data architecture of the future has to be built around trusted data. From efficiency and scalability, to security and auditability, the importance of trust can’t be underestimated.
In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that trusted data is the critical pillar for digital transformation success and will play a major role in helping businesses reach their potential in the years to come.
Ian Smith is Founder and CEO of Gospel Technology (opens in new tab)