Embracing Change in Data Strategy for Sustained Growth and Innovation

By Duncan McGregor, CIO, Shinydocs.

Posted on behalf of the CIO Association of Canada’s sponsor Shinydocs.

In the rapidly evolving world of technology, it is crucial as business and technology leaders to question the status quo. To challenge our accepted ways of doing things in search of better, faster, and more impactful strategies to meet our goals and gain our competitive edge. Of course, as technologists, it is also our job to find the optimal balance between efficiency gains and cybersecurity with our ability to innovate to capture the opportunities in front of us.

It should come as no surprise that companies need a data-driven strategy as their core growth engine. This is especially true in the enterprise space where recent advancements in AI and cloud computing offer massive potential to revolutionize the way we make decisions and operate as businesses.

That is exactly why it has never been more important to examine the impact and purpose of the data and knowledge housed within our virtual walls.

Imagine you had just one dollar to invest – would you prioritize strengthening cybersecurity or unlocking and enabling your business with the insights hidden within your data? This dilemma represents a crossroads for many CIOs as a fundamental aspect of challenging conventional practices amid rapid technological advancement.

But, many digital transformation projects go slower than we want, which makes for difficult conversations with our executive leadership teams and boards. It’s all too common that digital transformation projects are more complicated than we expect and filled with unforeseen friction and obstacles to overcome—both in technology and with the human willingness to change.

Top on the list for many CIOs is moving to the cloud. Straightforward, right? But, what about introducing risk of cyberattacks and data breaches? What about data migration complexity? What about the all-but-guaranteed disruption to business operations? Don’t get me wrong—I’m not arguing against moving to the cloud.  I’m compelling all of us, as business and technology leaders, to carefully consider the journey because it is just as critical as the destination. We must avoid making things worse before they get better.

Next on the list for all of us is likely the question of how to use artificial intelligence in our businesses. It is exciting times, to be sure. But, pragmatists, as most of are, we consider the impacts that many miss. Are we really going to willingly feed our valuable and proprietary business data into large language models? Are we comfortable with our people asking detailed business questions to publicly-available chatbots? How do we prevent PII and sensitive data from spreading? How will we guarantee the accuracy and accountability of the AI models behind our decision-making? Are we ready? The short answer is yes. However, the longer answer is yes…and.

To power any digital transformation, we must know what data and content we have, where it is, and how it is being used. To move files to the cloud, you must know what to move to where and avoid lifting and shifting your problems to a new place. To centralize records and train an AI model, you must know what content you have and ensure it is clean, up to date, and accurate. To create operational efficiency, foster innovation, and win, your people cannot be slowed down by searching for information.

As I wrote at the start, it has never been more important to examine the impact and purpose of the data and knowledge housed within our virtual walls. Our businesses and our teams depend on it.

Data is the lifeblood that fuels innovation and growth, however, the data landscape is constantly evolving, and our strategies must evolve with it. We must be agile and adaptive, constantly exploring new avenues to harness the power of data and drive sustainable growth. We must challenge norms when we leverage the power of the cloud and embrace AI technologies. When done right, we will unlock new possibilities and propel ourselves towards a future defined by limitless potential.

Duncan looks forward to presenting as a sponsor at CIOCAN’s upcoming Meet Me in the Middle-West event; September 20 -21 – Red Deer Alberta