Global chief innovation officer reveals the top four things entrepreneurs should know in the “year of digital acceleration”

Andrea Walsh is one of very few chief innovation officers in the Australian tech sector, currently managing 15 countries in the role for Isentia. She describes 2017 as the “year of digital acceleration” and if you’re building a business right now, these are the top four things you need to know. 

Big data is in, in a big way

Don’t despair if you are still not really sure what ‘big data’ is. Chances are you are not alone. In a nutshell, it involves organising lots of different data sets to reveal patterns and trends in business and consumer behaviour.

A great metaphor for big data is turning hay into needles. Things like Twitter conversations, call centre recordings and online purchases can be combined to truly understand customers and their experience with a business. With over 500 million tweets sent a day, there’s a lot to sift through and many clever people needed to create ways to automate this.

Perhaps the more pertinent question is: what should I be doing with my big data?

Ironically, when it comes to big data it is best to start small. If you’re thinking about going into partnership with another company, why not use data to understand the differences and similarities in your businesses.

What is the demographic of your customer base? What services do they need that you don’t currently offer? Real data is real science and allows businesses to make decisions based on fact rather than intuition.

If you are not using it, you should be.

Pack your bags, we’re moving to the cloud

With all of this data flying around comes issues with where to store it? Which brings me to the cloud.

Much like the land Care-A-Lot made famous by Care Bears in the 80’s, the cloud is a place of mystery to many. While the term cloud computing only entered the vernacular over the last decade, the technology was around long before that.

Contrary to the image it conjures, when sending to documents to the cloud we are not just shooting files up into the sky. Rather, the cloud exists in a very physical space. Large data centres are housed in warehouses all over the world.

Given these buildings generally take up large amounts of space, they are often housed in places where real estate is cheap: it’s far more likely that data captured in Melbourne is stored in Manila rather than Manhattan.

With all this valuable data flying around comes another problem.

Are you cyber secure?

Once upon a time this meant hoping the IT guy wasn’t keeping an eye on your online shopping via your email. Now, it’s far more important.

With banking details, addresses and phone numbers tempting potential hackers across the world, how do we ensure our data is safe? Without data security experts on your team you could land yourself in some serious hot water.

A good cyber insurance policy is also important. The high profile data hack on 100 million of Target’s customers in 2013 is rumoured to have cost the business in excess of $300 million.

If you don’t have a data risk strategy in place, put it at the top of your new year’s resolutions now.

My final piece of advice for 2017 is…

Look after your women in tech

As a woman passionate about the contribution females make to the industry, I am disappointed that the world’s largest CIO survey by Garter shows that the percentage of women CIO’s has remained largely static since 2004.

At a time when the tech industry is exploding, sadly there are virtually no women coming through the ranks.

If things don’t change, the industry won’t reach it’s full potential. Without a balanced representation of women in the industry we may miss the diversity of thinking needed to bring us space travel, or a cure for cancer or decode brain waves.

As these issues all impact both genders, not one or another, it makes sense to having both sexes working together on a solution? My advice (and plea): schedule a chat with HR to find out what your organisation is doing to promote women in technology. Stat.

This article was originally published Women’s Agenda

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