IRMSA 2017 – Corporate Business can do even better with data as its currency

Nobody can accuse companies of not making hay while the sun shines. But being proactive is not the same as evolving. You can change, yet are you becoming better prepared for tomorrow?

Enterprises need to make that switch or face extinction – this was the nub of the recent Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) Conference.

Since the 1990s, corporations have made massive gains. International markets became more accessible, leading to better tax regimes and more prominent brand exposure. Operational processes improved by leaps and bounds, while new innovations began to make their impact. Today’s customer can engage options, vet suppliers and chase value through a myriad of channels.

Adapting to these changes is a sign of healthy business. It is arguably the difference between the companies that are still around and aren’t. So those corporations still standing and even thriving can congratulate themselves for their effective modernisation.

But don’t rest on those laurels. The impact of new technologies is expanding much faster than even the most engaged audience had anticipated. The IRMSA Conference brought this into focus: companies need to switch gears.

The Digital Coalface

Have you ever heard of a guy called PewDiePie (rhymes with ‘cutie pie’)? He is the world’s biggest Youtube star, with over 57 million subscribers. To compare, the 2011 British Royal wedding set a record with 6 million viewers.

You may not care, and unless you are younger than 25 you have little reason to… except one: such success proves that digital is changing the rules. PewDiePie makes around $12 million a year as an individual, with incredibly little overhead. Digital is both powerful and austere, if you know how to use it.

I have been sceptical, since there is always someone trying to sell a new product or trend supposedly predicating business survival. But even when you set the fear mongering aside, it is clear digital is changing our world in unpredictable ways. IRMSA’s presenters minced no words about this. The avenues digital helps create are wielding exponentially more power than previous channels.

The new barriers to commerce are stagnant economies, flawed capitalism models, frayed politics and identity, and strained global cooperation. Digital is the way to overcome those. Some are calling this change the 4th Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0.

Not everyone agrees with the definition, but few refute that it’s a new world of data, autonomy and artificial intelligence. These in turn deliver insight to even the most insular organisation and agility to the largest enterprise. Your company data is the map to this new landscape, if you can unlock its potential and make it reach beyond the various business silos.

Data-driven innovation is evident everywhere. Usage-based models dictate transportation, financial services are chasing Blockchain technologies, preventative care is becoming the norm, and energy industries are realising huge efficiencies. Amazon’s voice command Echo/Alexa speakers were science fiction a decade ago. Today they not only take customer orders, but feed data into Amazon’s business strategy – a place of robotic warehouses and same-day deliveries. It’s a brave new world

Change through Data

The IRMSA conference presentations shared a common perspective: data need to be empowered by companies and made part of their character. Taking advantage of digital changes in the market is as crucial as having the key to open your business’ doors.

Your company already has that data. The questions you should be asking is how it can be turned into a currency for the business.

It’s an approach that thryve exists for. Our customers use their data not only to define risk, but create strategies that evolve the business and serve its many moving parts. This opens doors to predictive analytics, individualised products, better tracking of customers and trends, and more.

The corporate businesses that are still here today have been proactive about modernisation. But the bar is rising quicker than traditional technologies can keep up. To step into this new world, you need better, broader and faster insight – and that starts with adapting your data in new ways.