The agile, evolving organisation needs a living, evolving data ecosystem

The agile and evolving organisation needs a living, evolving data ecosystem to deliver seamless customer experiences, employee experiences, supply chain integration, M&A integration and speed to market innovation. This article appeared first in First 5000.

Leaders of high-performing organisations recognise that adaptability and connectivity are keys to long-term success in today’s rapidly changing, global environment.

This requires a significant shift in thinking and approach:

  • From organizational hierarchies to empowered networks and ecosystems (Deloitte)
  • From organisations as machines to organisations as living organisms (McKinsey)
  • From traditional organisations reliant on past strengths and traditional industry boundaries to living, evolving businesses with a broad ecosystem of partnerships (Accenture)

Ecosystem thinking is not new but, on the whole, the ecosystems that do exist are restricted by organisation boundaries, technology capabilities, security and risk; and any changes to the ecosystem require significant work.

This limits the completeness and flow of data throughout and between organisations, brands and people, which in turn, hinders decision-making and action taking. Preventing the delivery of seamless customer experiences, employee experiences, supply chain integration, M&A integration and speed to market innovation.

There are six current challenges that organisations are facing – organisation resilience, flexible workforce, co-operative partnerships, fluid relationships, human centricity, personalized and augmented experiences – each of which would be made easier to solve and remain open to change with a living, evolving data ecosystem.

Organisation Resilience

Today’s global environment is rapidly changing. Technology is breaking down barriers, competitors can come from anywhere, and customers have more knowledge, less loyalty and fewer barriers to switching.

To survive, let alone thrive, organisations need to be flexible, agile and adaptable to accommodate changing conditions and seek growth beyond traditional organic avenues.

Quality, real-time data informs decisions and next best action to respond to market changes quickly and, in the case of future proofing, predict and get ahead of change.

In most cases, traditional companies are held back from changing quickly by legacy technology that prevents ease of access to data and integration of data between legacy and new technologies, internal and external organisations, and by compliance challenges associated with data provenance.

Flexible Workforce

With the advancement of technology, global mobility, remote working, flexible and shared workspace, contingent workforces, cross-continent knowledge sharing and virtual collaboration teams are all contributing to a more flexible workforce.

Data needs to be shared with independent consultants, contractors and agencies outside of the organisation, across markets with different compliance requirements, on-the-go and within environments that aren’t as secure as within the four walls of an organisation.

Technology solutions that enable data to be shared across organisations and with the security and compliance controls required are complex, requiring years of stitching together systems, coding and re-entering data, further adding to risk, if at all possible.

Co-operative Partnerships

Beyond the flexible workforce, organisations recognise the importance of partnerships for leveraging resources across brand and marketing, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), sales, supply chain and distribution.

One of the key resources to leverage across all of these partnership opportunities is data, which comes with the challenges of provenance and ownership, security and compliance in sharing data across previously un-related businesses.

Current technology and systems have not been designed to easily share data between organisations whilst managing security and compliance controls, which prevents fully integrating and maximizing the value of the partnership.

Fluid Relationships

Employees are customers and shareholders, they are prospective partners and suppliers should they leave the business as a full-time employee.

Customers are prospective employees and shareholders, they could be partners and suppliers.

Suppliers may become part of the contingent workforce and are likely to be customers.

Partners are customers and may become joint ventures or merger & acquisitions.

Data and data history that is assigned to the individual as well as the entity, with the ability to change classification and usage permissions, as relationships build and change will be useful over the lifetime of the relationship.

Current technology solutions are not designed for this level of fluidity, historic data attributions are lost, changes to the system take a significant amount of time and compliance and security risks increase.

Human Centricity

As organisations seek to become human centric, and deliver end-to-end human-centric experiences, humans need to be at the centre of the experience, which means that the experience needs to be delivered inside as well as outside of the organisation, within the human’s ecosystem.

A customer’s ecosystem will involve their home, work, play and transit environments and a seamless customer experience will continue across the journey from awareness through to purchase and ongoing. As will an employee’s ecosystem and experience. The supplier, partner or shareholder ecosystem is also end-to-end.

Data needs to be gathered across the journey for the experience to be seamless – which means collecting data outside the organisation to provide a unified view of the “customer” (be it the customer, employee, shareholder, partner or supplier), whilst ensuring data use is safe, secure and compliant.

The current reality is that once you go outside the brand or organisation, the technology doesn’t play well with others, leading to missing data points in the journey, delayed response times, friction in the experience and potential pain to the “customer”.

Personalised and Augmented Experiences

As the relationship with the brand deepens, as do expectations of the brand delivering increasingly personalised experiences – whether you’re a customer, employee, partners, supplier or shareholder.

People are willing to share more data about themselves and organisations have more data to collect through people’s actions and interactions with the brand and, where it is available and shared, across the customer journey and throughout the customer’s ecosystem.

Beyond the sell-pay-use-feedback loop that ensures delivery against the promise, organisations share more information about themselves to strengthen the relationship, keep customers interested and involved, a new product, promotion or CSR initiative, “how to” content.

This constant, ever-changing (whilst consistently reinforcing the brand) dialogue requires two-way data exchange in real-time, with permissions, to inform the next best action at each point of decision and interaction.

With the added complexity of augmented experiences, whereby the experience is managed part by humans, part by technology (AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning), the technology needs to be flexible to accept data in any language, structured and unstructured, from any input, within and outside the organisation, translate it in real-time to provide a real-time unified view of the customer, that can be acted upon in real-time. This requires a living, evolving data ecosystem technology that, until now, didn’t exist.

Current technology solutions are not agile for change

In aspiring to build a data ecosystem, people are frustrated, struggling to integrate data within their own organisation, let alone others. The rigid solution of stitching systems together costs money and time, risks data security and compliance, PII (personalized identifiable information) safety and brand reputation. And has limitations in its flexibility to adapt to changing experiences, people, relationships, partnerships, the workforce, organisations, and the environment.

These technology solutions don’t cut it for organisations attempting to be more agile and evolving with or ahead of the changing environment. They need a data ecosystem technology that is living and evolving, just as they need to be.

This article was written by Rachel Bevans, in conjunction with Michael McDonald, CTO of Fl@World.

Fl@World empowers you with data security and control today; with the agility for future competitive advantage.

Fl@World is the next generation, data ecosystem technology that empowers people to unify structured and unstructured data from multiple sources – new and legacy technologies, within and outside the organisation – with multi-jurisdictional security and compliance. Giving you a real-time, updatable, unified view of your customer or entity. Transforming the world of data.


Image source: ID 40660708 © Subsurface |

Rachel Bevans

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