Why automation is the key to harnessing vast streams of data

Businesses face an unprecedented volume of data, but, as BMC Software CEO Ayman Sayed reveals, many IT frameworks are ill prepared to effectively utilize that data to create value. 

Digital transformation is becoming central to businesses across every industry. In fact, a study commissioned by BMC Software in 2021 found that more than 43% of businesses are prioritizing becoming a data-driven company. Still, leveraging this data to create actionable insights that drive company-wide value remains a challenge. 

To change that, IT services and enterprise software company BMC created the “Autonomous Digital Enterprise (ADE)” framework, which employs artificial intelligence (A.I.) and automation to support operations and strategy. In creating this technological ecosystem, companies can not only automate the process of ingesting and analyzing enormous streams of data, but they can also use that data to create actionable insights that can help to better serve customers and drive business growth. However, for BMC, this concept isn’t just for customers. The organization has embraced this approach across its own 6,000-plus workforce, helping the $2 billion-plus company accelerate product innovation and improve customer retention. 

We sat down with Sayed to understand the organizational changes and technology investments necessary to transform into an ADE.

Q: Why is it critical for companies to prioritize their digital capabilities?

A: Massive changes are impacting every industry and are presenting opportunities. Geopolitical factors are forcing organizations to approach supply chains and global operations differently. Socioeconomic trends are shaping new generations of buyers with different expectations. Technology trends continue to accelerate and are creating opportunities for competitive advantage. In addition, the past two-and-a-half years have reshaped the act of work and how people think about and approach work. The commonality across addressing these challenges and using them for [progressive] advantage lies in how companies can digitize and operate in new ways.

Any company can adopt a digital-first mindset. One of our oldest customers in the insurance industry evolved by adopting new software and application development practices across the business to support faster creation of innovative client services.

Q: What technologies are central in creating an ADE?

A: A.I., machine learning, predictive analytics—these are all key building blocks, along with the pervasive use of automation in every possible part of the business. These technologies rely on harnessing data, formatting it, and driving data operations, service operations, and intelligence in every aspect of workflows to bring the ADE to life. 

Q: What organizational changes are necessary or important for success?

A: It is critical to ensure alignment across the organization—from what the goal looks like to how we all get there together. It means putting technology at the center of operating models, so you can focus on agility, customer-centricity, and business insights. It means adopting pervasive intelligent automation across everything that can be automated, so the workforce is freed up to do what they do best—be creative and create new value. A clear vision, strategy, and execution plan can make the most complex transformations successful.

Q: How can organizations manage their data more effectively to support this approach?

A: There certainly has been an explosion in data in both the sheer volume and the variety as well. Understanding where the value lies and being able to harness it and translate it to business insight is an extremely powerful construct that can propel a business, and it is a key attribute and pillar of the ADE.

When we talk about data-driven insights and becoming a data-driven business, that hinges on everything from how to capture and harvest data to how to collect it, integrate it, analyze it, and translate it into efficient insights that can support business agility and information.

A data-driven culture fosters continuous performance improvement to enable differentiated customer and employee experiences. A customer of ours, Tampa General Hospital , found new ways to apply automation and intelligence to manage patient services and hospital operations data during the pandemic. By understanding and orchestrating important data and workflows in patient care, the hospital created a network of services to treat and manage patients during the toughest months.

Q: How does this emphasis on digital capabilities change the role of IT investments and organizations?

A: The shift to digitization means IT, as a function, moves from tactical to strategic and becomes part of running every aspect of the business. IT organizations take the lead to help businesses identify new and expanded revenue opportunities, enhance and optimize operations, and better understand how to support amazing employee and customer experiences. It’s a shift from IT just being the enabler of back-end systems into building new systems of engagement that change how we deliver business, whether that’s services, goods, B2B, or B2C. It changes and holds the promise for increasing the top line and improving the bottom line as well. 

Q: What upskilling investments can a company make across its workforce to support a digital-first evolution?

A: The culture shift of digital transformation includes employee education and engagement. Employees should feel they can try new things, experiment with new ideas and technologies, and be willing to learn. This creates the perfect environment to learn lessons and identify opportunities for success. Employees should see value in their work and feel empowered to solve problems. We certainly need to create that environment for learning and exploring, for evolving how we run our business, and for how we use technology, automation, and digitization to drive business.

Q: As leaders plan their companies’ digital transformations, what are some common challenges they can expect, and how can they move past those challenges?

A: It certainly is a change management process, and it is very much a positive change with a lot of promise and potential for great results. It’s important to clearly articulate a strong vision, to address what’s at stake, and to execute crisply. Coping with the magnitude of accelerating change is one aspect, but we should also be able to tell the story and paint the vision of the promise that this digital-first mindset holds for the business. It is a huge part of the transformation to be able to tell the story and get people inspired and engaged. The technology part of digital transformation is the easy part. The people portion should never be underestimated and should be the biggest focus for every ADE.