Earlier this year DAIN Studios founding members Ulla and Dirk wrote about initiating the journey on data and AI, and we were now given the opportunity to present our thoughts on the same matter in the German Finnish Trade Chamber’s member magazine Definitiv. In this article we focus especially on the importance of leadership commitment when building data driven organizations. The full version of the original article can be found here.
The onset of your data and AI journey and why leadership commitment is vital in it
Today many companies are investing in data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). As the terminology varies, the activities may be called Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Analytics, Data Science, or Machine Learning, but the goals are the same across companies: increase revenues and efficiency in current business, and develop new data-enabled offerings. It is well understood that to stay competitive in the digital economy, the company’s internal processes and products need to be smart – and smartness comes from data and AI.
During the past few years, many established companies have commenced targeted data and AI programs with big expectations to turn around the business and attract star talent. However, after a while in these programs, many show signs of fatigue and unmet expectations from senior managers and leaders unhappy with the speed of progress. Various pilots have been made in selected areas and even data-enabled products may have been launched, but the desired large-scale business transformation has not taken place. Data and AI are still niche activities, not the premise for business. As a result, management grows increasingly impatient and wonders how to get out of the rut.
Overcoming those matters calls for strong determination and persistence from the company leadership. It means bringing data and AI into the core of all aspects of decision making – from strategy to operations, supported by KPIs that align data driven decision making. Such action usually manifests itself with a focus on data and AI capability development seen on the agenda of leadership meetings – from the Board to C-suite to senior managers.
This is an area where we have seen clear differences between the Finnish and German markets. Finnish companies are much further in their digital transformation. In consequence, data and AI are perceived as one of the core enablers for the future success of the company with a high attention by the management and significant investment into related capabilities. It is not like German companies deny the criticality of AI and data for their future but quite often it has not reached the right level of importance for a consequent execution of the necessary steps towards a data driven organization. That is one reason why we, on a regular basis, invite our German clients for a learning journey to Finland so they have the opportunity to experience the impact and ways of working of data driven companies.
Based on our experience, business leaders need to be highly involved in all aspects of the execution of data and AI strategies and the capabilities that the supporting initiatives involve. We observe that fully committed leadership has been one of the common denominators for success in digital transformation and becoming a truly data-driven company.