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Three mindset shifts to become a data-rich platform for growth

Learn from platform companies to see how data can change your growth trajectory.
Veronika Kamplade

Advises clients across a variety of sectors on end-to-end digital and analytical transformations with deep expertise in managing culture & change and talent

Manuela Mareva-Forsell

Manages Leap by McKinsey, helping established organizations build and scale new businesses while developing capabilities for sustained performance

Richard Steele

Designs and delivers purpose-driven transformation programs and is an expert in culture change, organizational agility, and using design-thinking to remake the employee experience and drive improved performance and organizational health

Organizations that build data-rich technology platforms reap substantial benefits. They can accelerate innovation by launching new products and services based on insights gleaned from data and create personalized customer experiences that keep people coming back for more. In these organizations, data doesn’t just show what is happening in the business; data becomes the business. This is one key to success in an increasingly “winner takes all” economy, where our research shows that across 30 top-performing U.S. companies almost three in four are making bold moves around tech platforms.

Making this change takes a concerted effort in changing the way a business thinks and operates. To help navigate this transition and organize for the future, we offer three shifts in perspective:

  1. Change the way you view data. Understand what the full value of your data would be if it were shared and available at the right time within your company. Start by linking your data strategy to overall strategic priorities and creating a data vision. For example, a U.S. company created a data-as-a-service unit to aggregate and share data with other business units and even with customers.

    To make a shift in how you view data, key questions to ask include: How can we collect and organize the data we already have? How do we source and aggregate more data from inside and outside the company? How do we best use these data types? Collecting masses of data in a data lake is relatively easy—but making it accessible, digestible, and insightful is the challenge.

  2. Reshape your innovation portfolio. Retool innovation priorities to capture data, integrate data, and embed advanced analytics into the way products are built and managed. This requires creating a new set of processes that incorporates strong data governance. One U.S. bank established a three-tiered product structure with products at the top, reusable modular features in the middle, and a foundational technology layer. Doing so enabled it to capture and use data across different parts of the customer journey.

    Key questions to ask include: What are our key sources of innovation, both today and in the future? What are the current innovation processes? How can I change my process to best leverage analytics?

  3. Develop talent differently. To truly become a platform business, you must reset the way you identify and develop talent. Too often the biggest challenge is getting the right talent, which can be far more difficult than establishing the tech infrastructure and systems.

    The organization’s approach to talent needs can be addressed in several ways. First, you need translators—colleagues who have subject matter, tech, and data expertise. Second, we increasingly expect data to take precedence over code, and this needs to be reflected in hiring the right talent. Finally, ethics combined with trust and risk management are critical characteristics to seek when hiring.

    An Asian bank became a global leader by creating a large developer platform, which seamlessly enabled its ecosystem. To attract the right talent, it used a combination of employee-led and leader-led initiatives, including encouraging employees to share individual stories on social media, and leveraging digital data science to select best-fit candidates.

    Key questions to ask include: How can we make ourselves attractive to recruit and retain diverse top talent? How can we use employee technology to motivate employees and improve their experience? How can we create an ecosystem by establishing a platform to collaborate with partners, customers, and start-ups?

Now more than ever, leaders need to put data-rich platforms at the core of their organizational strategy. Winning organizations will increasingly view themselves as part of an interconnected ecosystem that seeks to constantly experiment, fail, learn, and grow.

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This blog post is part of a series on Organizing for the Future, which explores a set of new principles such as anti-fragility and experimentation that are becoming increasingly critical for today’s organizations as they build more creative, adaptable, and human systems.

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