Data Integration Buyer's Guide

How Centers of Excellence Drive the Best Digital Transformation Results

Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series is a collection of contributed articles written by thought leaders in enterprise tech. In this feature, StreamSets‘ Girish Pancha offers commentary on how centers of excellence drive digital transformation.

More than a decade after the phrase “digital transformation” appeared in our business vocabulary, pulling off a successful project in that area hasn’t gotten any easier. Around 70 percent of digital transformation programs still fail outright, and nearly 87 percent don’t meet their original expectations. Those are unacceptable numbers, particularly in light of almost 60 percent of executives citing digital transformation as their most critical business growth driver. 

Part of the trouble arises from companies approaching digital transformation as a time-bound project rather than an ongoing initiative. If long-term change is going to be possible, it’s going to take a dedicated team of specialists within the organization. A digital transformation center of excellence (CoE) is the only way to bring all the critical business and technical capabilities into an ongoing effort. 

Gathering people with the necessary knowledge and experience and granting them authority over standardization, operating procedures, and budget allocation s is only the beginning. Without a well-thought-out strategy rooted in managing data, the team will face an uphill battle. Here are a few guidelines that CoEs must adhere to for effective digital transformation.

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Centers of Excellence Drive the Best Digital Transformation

Ensure Data Integration and Compatibility 

Data is at the very core of digital transformation. Without data, enterprises cannot make smart real-time decisions, stay competitive, or accelerate innovation. It’s critical, then, that information assets must move seamlessly and at speed throughout an organization. 

CoEs should focus on connecting data, applications, people, and processes to create a unified, scalable integration platform. This platform should facilitate seamless communication between on-premises and cloud solutions, ensuring no data source is lost. In a world where data drives decision-making, maintaining the integrity and accessibility of data is non-negotiable. 

Avoid Data Friction 

Data engineers must take many steps to connect, transform, and process data to build the pipelines that feed digital transformation projects with the right insights. But when data is siloed in multiple systems with inconsistent formats (called data friction), creating bespoke data pipelines at scale is a huge challenge. In one report, almost two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) said data complexity and friction can have a crippling impact on digital transformation. 

Compounding the issue here are often disconnects between the line of business teams and engineering teams on what new solutions can actually deliver, which can have a crippling impact on digital transformation. CoEs must address data friction head-on by harmonizing data formats and streamlining data pipelines to ensure the right insights are readily available. 

Embrace the New Governance 

Data governance is essential for all businesses, especially for enterprise companies managing massive petabytes of data. Standards and policies are necessary to guide how data is gathered, stored, processed, accessed, and disposed of. Identifying and enabling data domain owners is also the best way to ensure data is accurate, consistent, and secure. 

But today’s companies need a modern approach to governance, not the traditional, top-down manner that hampers innovation. Instead, CoEs should promote modern governance practices that allow organizations to maintain control while keeping pace with the speed of business transformation. 

APIs: Making the Connection 

 Digital transformation efforts occur amid a complex mix of private cloud, public cloud, and on-prem hosting. This chaos of connectivity can be tamed through connections made possible by APIs, integration, and microservices. 

Companies can unlock innovations and modernize without building from scratch by enabling systems applications and partners to be relentlessly and seamlessly connected. This brings digital transformation within reach, as existing resources open a pathway for new digital products. 

Conclusion: A Holistic Approach with CoEs 

From one angle, digital transformation efforts can look like impossibly complex puzzles—a web of technology, data, people, apps, processes, clouds, and connected things. That’s why a CoE guided by a data-backed strategy has the best chance of achieving its goals. Digital transformation isn’t about pipelines and projects and rules; it’s about all those things together. A siloed approach won’t get the same result as a dedicated team with resources, budget, and focus. 

As organizations continue to embrace digital transformation as a fundamental strategy, the guidance and leadership of CoEs will be pivotal in realizing the full potential of this transformative journey. 

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