How using data, analytics can propel innovation

When people hear the words “digital transformation,” they generally think about the technology behind it. But digital transformation involves so much more, says Lynne Doherty, president, Worldwide Field Operations, Sumo Logic, a partner of MILHEM DTL.

“It’s not just technology,” says Doherty. “You’ve got to put analytics and data behind it. You need to have the people, processes and cultural changes to support it. You have to look at new ways to do things and loop back to use technology, analytics, people and processes to optimize operations, ultimately driving innovation.”

Smart Business spoke with Doherty about why digital transformation is critical to moving your business forward.

Why is digital transformation so critical?

It is the next frontier. Digital transformation is about survival. It’s not an option anymore. Whether you are a B2B business, or B2C, the ability to engage, improve and make data-based decisions is an imperative today. The hard reality is that if you believe your business doesn’t need to transform, it probably isn’t going to survive.

All the data that comes from technology can be referred to as digital exhaust. That data needs to be captured, and how that is put into something meaningful and valuable to the company is critical. Otherwise it’s just pollution.

How can a business get started?

The process can feel overwhelming, but keep in mind you don’t have to transform the entire company at once. Transform one piece of it, one application, one tool, one process, one customer experience at a time. Break it into measurable, discreet chunks.

Make strategic decisions about where to start, where you expect a return on investment, and do an analysis of what is a priority. An outside adviser can help you make a digital roadmap of where to start, providing guidance and advice based on the specifics of your business. Once you get started, it’s an iterative process that allows you to look at the data and make the next decision based on that data.

Two of the most common places to start are with customer-facing applications and the internal focused experience. Customer-facing applications can be a differentiator. They create the expectation with customers that they will have a great digital experience. It’s how customers expect to interact now, and if you don’t create this experience, your competitors will. You need to differentiate your customer-facing interaction. Other companies start with an internally focused experience, as a captive audience in their employees creates a safer space, allowing them to work through issues and challenges out of the public eye.

So much in business is still done from intuition — I think this will work, I think this will help retain customers, I think this will make my partners’ experiences better. Digital transformation allows you to instead make those decisions based on hard data, not on a feeling.

How can businesses create a culture receptive to change?

I’m a big believer of supportive change. If you’re not changing, your organization is falling behind. Build that mindset into everyday operations. Let people know that it’s OK to try things, it’s OK to fail. You are setting the expectation of innovation to drive the culture. Change is not easy or natural, so it starts with leadership.

COVID has accelerated businesses into digital transformation, and every company is somewhere down that path. However, there is so much more to do. Acceleration will continue, and it is an ongoing process. There isn’t an end to the sentence. The process is iterative, and you must continue to look at what is happening, how clients and vendors are working with you, what is working, what is not, and iterate on that and continue to do better.

Digital transformation is happening, and it needs to be an imperative for every company. It’s about survival. You don’t have to solve everything at once. Just start somewhere. ●

INSIGHTS Digital Transformation is brought to you by MILHEM DTL

Lynne Doherty

President, Worldwide Field Operations


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For more information about digital transformation, contact Lynne, or Ray Milhem at 408.234.0868 or [email protected].