Management still needs to step up: Why modern leadership plays a crucial role during the data-driven journey

Dun & Bradstreet’s previous report, “Management: Step up.

The seven steps to a data-driven organization that top management must take”, made clear that data-driven organizations were ahead in many ways, and that top management had great responsibility in achieving the transition to becoming data-driven. Data is core strategy, which requires buy-in from the whole organization, but top management must take the lead for things to happen.

Quote block Rikard Candell
The transformation to a data-driven strategy generally comes from two directions: from the top down, and from the outside inwards. In most cases, companies don’t come up with the idea out of nowhere that it would be good to focus on data, but are pressured to do so by external forces. Customer expectations and the strategies of competitors make data a long-term survival issue.

This, in turn, means that the top management needs to drive this transformation. They are the ones who are in control of strategy, which data must become an integral part of, as well as the capability to allocate enough resources to achieve momentum and ensure the data strategy is successful.


Without a strong mandate from the top, the data journey is doomed before it even begins

Out of the respondents in a survey conducted by Kairos Future, some say that their data transformation has been driven by a balance between “top down” and “bottom up”. However, what is consistent is the fact that you need the top-down approach to get anywhere.

“I would say that these type of things are coming at a pretty high rate, and it needs to be the top that comes up with the idea that this is good. With us it was our CEO at that time, our present chairman of the board, as well as our owner that came up with the idea,” says Jari Virtanen, Chief Transformation Officer at Stena Line, about their digital transformation.


Get things going and point out the right direction

Kurt Vanwingh, Group Credit Director at Amcor, responding to the same survey, notes that: “It’s about creating the foundation and saying, ‘This is the end goal, this is what we want to achieve, this is the process of how we want to get there’ and then reaching a consensus regarding that and then doing it. If you go the other way and start with the detail you risk not going anywhere and don’t get the mandate to get certain things done within a certain delegation of authority.”

“First of all, you need to define what you’d like to achieve. Do you want to sell more to existing customers? Or find new ones? When the target is clear, data analytics can bring you the answer you need”
Elsa Markus, Engagement Officer at Dun & Bradstreet

In other words, when it comes to companies who have yet to embark on their data journeys, management still needs to step up — both to get things going and point out the right direction for the rest of the organization. After all, the point of this journey is not actually the data itself. It’s what the data will help you achieve.

Do you want to deep dive into the topic of data-driven journey


To help you on your way, we’ve published the report “Data-driven masterclass: 10 lessons from the European leaders in digitalization”. These lessons are based on an extensive survey commissioned by Dun & Bradstreet and conducted by Kairos Future, consisting of in-depth interviews with senior leaders in IT, data, marketing and business development functions in Europe.

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