Data-driven shift is best led by leaders who build ties across borders

Sanath Kumar, Executive Director at Deloitte, discusses the significance of cultivating a culture that is driven by data

Organisations may need to invest in communication tools, foster a culture of open sharing, provide training on cross-functional collaboration, and encourage leadership behaviours that support teamwork and information sharing.

In an exclusive conversation with ET Edge Insights, Sanath Kumar, Executive Director at Deloitte, talks about how shattering silos and adapting a collaborative approach can be beneficial to organisations and the importance of a data-driven culture


What does the concept of ‘data’ mean to you, described in your own words?

I would call data a building block. It is both a foundational element and a potent fuel in our modern landscape. It accompanies our every action, from conversations to clicks on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. However, this data presents the challenge of effective management and conversion into valuable outcomes and identifying the right use cases. I term this “click into a clink”. Organisations must embrace this role to extract value, both internally and externally. In various sectors, including telecommunications, life sciences, and healthcare, data is transitioning from a mere commodity to a transformative force. It tackles business challenges and addresses human problems, like leveraging AI and ML to enhance education and even treat cancer. As we navigate the future, data is basically becoming a building block for everything, compelling us to wield it carefully for human progress.

In today’s swiftly evolving world, organisations must adapt to become data-driven enterprises. How, in your perspective, do these organisations initiate their journey towards this transformation?

Currently, 85% of CTOs, CIOs, and CEOs aim to transform their organisations into data-driven entities, ranking this goal highly among their priorities. This involves dismantling the silos formed during decades of data growth. Although individuals claim ownership of systems, data ownership remains rare. A leader’s task is to break these silos, starting with redefining the data framework. This begins by unifying people, business functions, and culture, evident in approaches like enhancing the customer experience. This unity requires perceiving data holistically, not in fragments. This leads to internal data exchange and external collaboration, promoting a sharing mindset. Instances include health organisations using smartwatch data for well-being and athletes optimising training with heart rate data. This shared data ethos transcends organisational limits. The journey shifts from silos to collaboration and data monetisation. Leaders forging partnerships across boundaries are best poised to champion the data-driven shift.

How do you think companies should go about viewing and assessing data to maximise outputs for their own businesses?

Today, data serves as the initial input into various systems. Rather than this traditional approach, a paradigm shift is crucial—viewing data as a resource to be converted into tangible business value. For instance, consider supply chain challenges, where market conditions demand improved pricing models for informed decision-making. A similar case emerges in shipping, where vessel profitability hinges on sea time. Enhancing crane productivity and swift tendering optimises vessel turnaround. Thus, data becomes a conduit for crafting use cases, yielding monetary gains, and addressing real-world business complexities. Organisations should systematically examine their data reserves, envisioning their conversion into practical use cases and subsequently into business solutions. Essential to this journey is fostering data awareness and literacy across all data creators—an initial step in transforming data into actionable insights and valuable investments.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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