Digital transformation has been a strategic corporate initiative for some time. Since the rapid onset of COVID-19, the pressure to transform has accelerated and become mission critical as digital has become the primary—or only—channel for most industries.
What is digital transformation? Fundamentally, it is about converting analog processes to a digital format. The result is a rich set of data generated by these new digital processes: marketers can successfully execute retention campaigns to newly identified micro segments, supply chain managers are able to build resiliency thanks to visibility into contingent supplier relationships, eCommerce leaders can proactively take steps to increase digital adoption, and financial analysts can more easily reconcile accounts for rapid reporting and decisioning. In short, digital transformation is about businesspeople achieving better business outcomes by tapping into a wealth of new data.
However, even with more data available, business leaders continue to struggle due to disconnected, inaccurate, and incomplete data. New channels, new suppliers, new products, new customer data and preferences, and new back-office systems all create data fragments and silos that make it difficult for business users to have a contextual understanding of the business—an understanding which can be found in the data they need most.
For business users, functional applications aim to provide better data and a ‘360 view’; however, these applications focus on user interfaces and business logic and utilize a database to store, not manage, data. To bridge this gap, IT has invested in capabilities to fix data to the highest level of quality required across the entire enterprise, but are still unable to deliver the ‘fast, not perfect’ data business users could use, nor have they been able to connect data deeply enough to deliver the critical context that helps guide business decisions and actions.
Elements of Business 360
Business 360 is a collaboration between business and IT to meet the data needs of various parts of the business. It delivers trusted cross-domain data and can scale from functional requirements to enterprise needs in support of business users, applications, analytics, and operations. Five key capabilities at the core of a Business 360 solution are:
1. Master – End-to-end processes for creating, updating, and maintaining master data entities in a heterogeneous environment.
- Resolve unique identities of data records for multiple data domains such as customer, product, supplier, employee, financial data, and more
- Establish a process to automate resolution and synchronization of data to other systems
- Automate and apply intelligence to the process for creating and updating master records
- Data quality
- Data catalog
- Data governance
2. Join – Functionality to join master data domains together and allow users to traverse data domains seamlessly, while managing common components across those domains.
- Join the data domains which have been mastered
- Create multi-level data connections
- Manage common reference data sets across domains
- Enable access and retrieval of data across multiple domains
3. Relate – Match and link other business data to master domains, and to other business data entities, using a variety of contextual matching capabilities to allow ‘data to find data’.
- Relate other business data entities to domains which have been mastered to start to round out the picture of the domain – for example, to core customer data, you relate digital journeys, call center interactions, store visits, quotes, transactions, account openings, etc.
- Infer relationships among domains and business entities via contextual matching
- Infer transitive relationships among domains & entities
4. Derive – Inferences, computations, rules, and analytic functions that operate on both a network of related data (a 360 graph) to identify new patterns as well as unstructured data entities to extract meaning.
- Derive additional data for domains based on relationships among domains & entities
- Derive intelligence about domains (what has happened) and persist that intelligence as data attributes within Business 360
- Derive insights about domains – what will happen – and send alerts, triggers and store those insights with Business 360
5. Deliver – Assemble 360 perspectives (multi domain and business data entities) to publish only the data required for a function or application in the context of their business process.
- Deliver a tailored perspective of the 360 for each business function and use case
- Business users ‘set the dial’ for the amount of mastering, joining, relating, and deriving the data required for their specific use case.
How Business 360 Works
In Business 360, available data is ingested and processed with prebuilt capabilities to create data that’s connected, accurate, contextual, and complete. It incorporates modern technology including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and graph database. These capabilities allow organizations of all sizes to manage at the scale needed to capitalize on digital transformation.
Automation is built into Business 360, powered by algorithms which learn from decisions IT and business users make when mastering, joining, relating, and deriving 360 data. These decisions about the data are then made available to scale to volume and variety of data that’s required to manage and share insights across the organization.
Business 360 enables users to set confidence and accuracy levels aligned with how the data will be used and make adjustments as needed when performing matching or other actions for different business purposes. In other words, this capability moves away from a “one size fits all” approach to data accuracy. With a Business 360, users can “set the dial” for the confidence levels required based on their specific use cases. This ensures the data is both “fast” and “perfect” for their needs and isn’t processed at a higher or lower level than they require.
Depth and breadth are the key benefits of Business 360. Business users are empowered to take a broader approach to critical decisions and have a deeper understanding of cross-functional and multi-domain data. For example:
- Marketers easily identify micro-segments, journey trends, and product affinities to incorporate into their campaign planning, and experience higher response rates and marketing-sourced revenue.
- eCommerce leaders visualize journey patterns and activation results, and drill into specific customer segments and product experiences that help them better understand more tailored digital activation strategies, and then ultimately increase digital adoption.
- Supply chain leaders identify alternate suppliers for products, macro demand trends affecting supply chains, and identify alternate suppliers, initiate streamlined onboarding and facilitate product ordering to ensure efficient and uninterrupted supply chains.
- Finance analysts can reconcile accounts more quickly, onboard accounts of acquired businesses, and consolidate across lines of business or regions to provide accurate and timely financial data to executive decision makers.
Business 360 is the missing link to help dispel myths and move your business from operating on “gut feeling” informed by some data to running on trusted data and insights—ensuring that digital transformation can move from aspiration to reality in day-to-day business operations.
The impact of Business 360 for your organization can be significant. Many of your business data-centric initiatives, from customer data platforms in marketing, to chart of account reconciliation efforts, to cleaning up data lakes for improved analytics and data science, can benefit from Business 360.
I invite you to learn more about this new approach by watching my keynote from the Intelligent Data Summit for Business 360 on demand at Informatica Liveand determine which of your planned business initiatives can benefit from a broader and deeper contextual 360 of your business.