In the era of information, the accumulation of data shifted from being a company’s advantage to becoming the norm. But the fact that almost everyone does it doesn’t mean that everyone does it right – which is the true challenge now. Unlocking data value by modernizing IT means you don’t just have a pile of information, but instead that you know how to get data insights from it. That will be your true asset.
In this roundtable, Paul Davison, Head of Commercial Division at the Royal Mail, and Rashmi Kumar, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Senior VP and Global Chief Information Officer, shared their expertise in what they do best: structuring the access and use of information within a company to unlock its game-changer potential. Moderator Juliette Foster proposed a series of objective questions and theoretical scenarios to answer: how to update the way we think and work to get the most out of available information?
From automation to integration
Modernizing IT concerns technology businesses as much as those in more traditional fields. Ranked 107 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by revenue, Hewlett Packard Enterprise offers digital solutions from servers and software to consulting. The Daily Mail is one of the largest newspapers and news websites in Great Britain and has started using data as a monetization tactic.
“When we started with technology, it was about automation. So we were bringing out applications to automate different business processes”, says Rashmi. “And then we realized that we have automated these kinds of ‘pockets’, but now they need to talk all together. So it became about integration.”
Paul talks about how the information input used in those automation processes must be correct. “So we know that there’s lots of technology around things like AI that can use events from the hard past to be able to predict the future, and that’s great. But also what you got to understand is that it’s essential that the data that’s been used in any of that technology is accurate, up to date, and reflective of what you’re trying to predict.”
Modernizing IT, changing the mindset
The challenge to unlock data value by modernizing IT that delivers beneficial data insights must be conquered with the right culture.
Paul Davison points out that data has recently become considered somewhat challenging or risky. The legal aspect of the last few years since GDPR sparked a change in people’s attitude to data. “And I think it’s absolutely right – if, from a business leader’s perspective, that culture shifts into the understanding that data can be used for good.”
Rashmi Kumar highlights that it includes changing the business leaders’ mindset on how to run their company, as many still base their decisions exclusively on experience. Still, the time for that is now gone. “The change in mindset here is that you don’t need to understand technology; you don’t even need to understand data. But [you need to] understand your business from a data perspective.”
Legacy systems and technology
Finally, Paul Davison and Rashmi Kumar tackled one of the current monsters of data insights: multi-generational IT, or legacy technology. They are old or outdated systems that still contain information or perform a role in your business. Again, Paul and Rashmi brought a fresh perspective that clarifies how to look at modernizing IT.
Rashmi explained that the main focus can’t always be to have the latest technology – mainly because there’s new technology every day, and there would be no time to do anything else but update systems.
On top of that, it’s vital to assess if you need decades of information from these legacy systems to get enough data value to fulfil the current purpose of your company. Even in very traditional businesses, as it’s the case with Daily Mail, you don’t always need to extract all the information contained in those legacy systems. “It’s about understanding what you need to pull together”, says Paul.
The key is to know what is needed or wanted and identify the information to bring you valuable data insights. Rashmi’s words: “At the end of the day, we’re here to drive business outcomes.”
This roundtable on modernizing IT was created in partnership with HPE.