Driving Your Digital Strategy: The Roles of AI, Data and Agile

By Daniel Lassell | December 27, 2018

There are a lot of aspects that IT leaders must consider when formulating their digital strategies for 2019 and beyond. A few of these aspects are outlined in the second episode of InterVision’s newly-launched podcast, Status Go—in which host Jeff Ton welcomes Isaac Sacolick, President of StarCIO and author of Driving Digital, to discuss a wide range of topics from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to proper Data Governance. Their conversation puts forward a lot of helpful reminders and essential insights for both business executives and IT leaders, a few of which have been detailed below:

Be Ready for the Growth of Artificial Intelligence

According to Sacolick, AI will be a reality check for many business leaders in 2019. He says that, of three major technologies – blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI – rising to the forefront in 2019, CIOs and CEOs are hearing that AI will be the most disruptive of the three, which will have subsequent impacts on investments and daily business practices. He advises organizations to take a tempered approach to implementing AI, establishing a culture of experimentation with a strategic focus on how data can impact end users. This approach to AI helps leaders know what questions to ask and answers to look for, and how to measure the business results they want. Since bad data often has biases that may not align with users’ desires, you need clean data to have effective AI.

Beware the “Data Sins” of the Past

Since so many companies are becoming data-driven to improve their end user experience, the need for good data collection and predefined rules of usage must emerge to the forefront of these activities. As Ton states, “The more companies rely on data, the more the sins of the past rear their head.”

Pulling from experiences helping companies, Sacolick explains what he sees as a siloed data problem plaguing many organizations. He claims that bad data sources can contribute to massive budget waste—60 billion dollars per year is wasted, for example, in manual manipulation of data in spreadsheets alone. For this reason, companies need to focus on centralizing their repositories and automating their analytics. When Big Data first emerged as a concept, infrastructure had been built to support data first, and customer problem-solving took a secondary focus. But now, storing data without a pre-determined problem to solve could lead to misalignment with the overall business goals and a reduced focus on true business impact.

Companies must to start using their data in a more targeted way. He outlines a few ways companies can properly use data:

  • Determine what insights you’re looking for
  • Determine what you’re looking to solve
  • Determine which opportunities exist that could use data as a solution

Lastly, companies need to look at strengthening Data Governance to help improve data quality:

  • Address accessibility, so more people can use the data
  • Create catalogs and dictionaries, so data is used in the way it was intended
  • Communicate policies, so the right people have access to the right data

Using Agile for Business and IT Alignment

Sacolick notes that many CEOs are starting to understand the role agile practices can play in driving their entire organization into transformation, pushing for both collaboration and alignment, “You can do agile in your IT department, but really agile is where I see organizations winning or losing on the business IT side of things.”

Utilizing an agile mentality allows for two main things as it relates to transformation: 1) getting a larger number of people involved and 2) eliciting much-needed feedback. Working in short sprints to solve long-term problems necessitates consistent feedback from the entire organization to course correct along the way.

The nuances of culture can play a major role in agile. From his perspective, Sacolick says many of the companies he sees doing agile are also well-aligned IT teams because the nature of agile demands a culture of experimentation—but not all organizations have fine-tuned this yet. Companies looking to transfer an agile mindset to the rest of the business first need to understand that company culture must be ready for it. A strong discipline around agile is essential to the selection of where and when to implement new innovations, including AI, into an organization.

Gain More Insights on Digital Strategy

Driving a digital strategy forward relies upon preparedness, as well as buy-in from stakeholders and input from multiple roles within an organization. For more information on topics that range from Data Governance to getting the most out of an IT transformation, listen to the full podcast episode here.

Gain more insights on Digital Strategy