Wednesday, 18 May, 2022


Technology transformation journey

From storm to calm: an unusually speedy AI, Data and Technology transformation journey

How 1,951 days of frustration quickly transformed to radically enhanced speed, efficiency and resilience 

If we see AI, data and technology as sources for answers that can enable us to make smarter choices, it stands to reason that the solutions they provide should make our lives easier, boost business performance and help society function more efficiently, right? 

While all of these things are theoretically true, they are not so easy to achieve from a practical perspective, especially against the backdrop of a rapidly changing environment. 

For example, a while ago – shortly after joining a global financial organisation – I was surprised to be summoned to the office of one of the most senior executives in the entire group. She was extremely frustrated because she had been waiting over five years for the organisation’s data to yield tangible results. While I initially assumed that five years was an exaggeration, my team later confirmed that a data product request was actually issued 1,951 days prior to our conversation.

She also had serious concerns about the operational performance of some existing AI and data products, including one that sometimes took over three weeks to deliver tangible insights.

Her view – that change was urgently needed – was reflected throughout various levels of the organisation, and it became quite clear that timing and speed were at the heart of the challenge and would determine whether our current transformation outcomes would be deemed a success.

All organisations and especially consumer-facing businesses are aware of today’s rapid – and ever-accelerating – pace of change. Customers demand better products and services. They want efficiency and, when they are on the phone with us, they also want empathy, especially in situations when they may be just as frustrated as the above-mentioned executive.

Speed has to be part of the value proposition for enhancing customer experience and service resilience – enabling effective monitoring, fast issue identification, efficient problem resolution and rapid adaptation – especially when there is failure.

Speed is expected not only by customers but across the board. And in order to increase speed and efficiency for entire AI, data and technology pipelines, it is essential to reduce friction and increase adaptability not only for facing the challenges of desperately shrinking markets but also for enhancing scalability and market share within rapidly growing sectors. 

The good news was that a combination of AI, data, analytics and cloud technology now increasingly enabled us to deliver the kind of underpinning capability that made such impossibly high demands actually possible. And perhaps even more significantly, we were now able to make some of our most critical legacy processes not only up to 30 times faster but also many times more resilient.

Yet, while technology is essential for the radical transformation we hope to achieve, it is quite obvious that, to a significant extent, our solutions depend on an organisation’s ability to deliver them at pace. Here, organisational culture and talent come into play. 

Culture and talent – when skilfully combined – serve to reduce friction and unlock efficiencies in the process for translating ideas into tangible results. In short, they create a foundation for injecting speed into the system. Our ability to adapt quickly can also be enhanced by collective understanding and potential application of a number of forward thinking principles, including backward compatibility, blockchain-like immutability, linked data, connecting silos and intelligent interventions.

Hence, to truly turn AI, data and technology capabilities into timely solutions in a rapidly changing landscape, we also need to think about enabling an appropriate culture and enlisting the support of top talent. 

Only then can we ultimately leverage the true potential that comes from a winning combination of people, AI, data and technology. 

by Edosa Odaro – Top 100 Most Influential Leaders

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