Syniti CRO on why digitalisation projects fail

Data is like oil in some ways. When unprocessed, neither are inherently valuable. But when extracted and refined, both become essential.

For business leaders, in particular, data is critical to making the right decisions – especially in today’s post-pandemic era where incorporating digital technology into processes, products, and strategies are necessary to survive.

To Gordon Lam, President and Chief Revenue Officer of Syniti, data plays a massive role in digital transformation. Frontier Enterprise recently spoke to Lam about this role, his forecasts for data in digitalisation, how the digitalisation growth affected Syniti, and more.

The pandemic has accelerated digitalisation by several years. How has this surge affected Syniti as a data migration specialist? What kind of challenges can enterprises expect to face with this acceleration?

In the context of digital transformation, we had a massive opportunity to help organisations prepare and rise to the challenges of the pandemic. During this time, it was clear that organisations faced a fundamental challenge: managing and making sense of their data, which would only continue to compound if left unaddressed.

In the last two years, many companies reprioritised their digital transformation journeys with the goal of reducing operating costs; there was a financial impetus to making it a priority, given economic uncertainties. We were able to help these companies leverage their data to discover areas where they could save costs, streamline processes, and increase working capital. In fact, IDC found that customers experienced more than 300% from a ROI perspective with an eight-month payback period by having the right data platform to help with their transformation journeys.

Understanding the priorities of our customers was critical in helping to pivot our business strategy to meet their needs and achieve business growth. Thanks to the collaborative effort of the team, we were able to achieve a software revenue growth of over 250% in Asia-Pacific and Japan in 2020.

BCG research found that 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail. Why do you think the failure rate is this high? How does a traditional company with no experience in digitalisation ensure that its transformation efforts succeed?

The primary reason why digital transformation initiatives fail is because of poorly managed data. When it comes to digital transformation, there are two critical data factors for success:

  • First is data suitability or data quality. Believe it or not, the quality of an organisation’s data can make or break the business. Good quality data is necessary to drive good quality business decisions, and it consists of data that is accurate, timely, compliant, and relevant. Conversely, bad data encourages poor decision-making and can result in catastrophic outcomes.

    Take for example, emergency health services. Inaccurate data on patients or their health conditions could determine whether a life is saved. Similarly, at the organisational level, poor quality data can lead to dire consequences, ranging from lost revenue to irreversible damage to brand reputation. In fact, Gartner estimates that poor quality data costs organisations US$12.9 million a year on average.
  • Second is data style, or the way data is used across systems in the organisation. Essentially, the same quality data needs to be consistently used across the organisation. It is futile for one department to maintain and use quality data, while the other doesn’t. One bad decision arising from bad data in one system could lead to poor outcomes for the entire business.

To avoid these pitfalls and succeed in their transformation journeys, businesses should look at implementing an intelligent data platform within the business. Such platforms look after everything from data management and governance, to analytics, in a single unified platform, ensuring data is correct right from the start.

Most importantly, they provide businesses with a single source of truth — a single system of records and data that can be used by various business functions to confidently make decisions. This will not only help businesses minimise risks or losses, but also place them in a better position to uncover opportunities that improve business outcomes, which is ultimately the goal of digital transformation.

Gordon Lam, President and Chief Revenue Officer, Syniti. Image courtesy of Syniti.

What predictions do you foresee in the data/digital transformation market within the next three to five years?

Digital transformation is powering innovation like never before. In the next few years, we will see more innovation than in the last 20 years — from faster silicon processing power, 6G connectivity, the metaverse, web 4.0, and breaking greater ground in the applications of AI.

To me, these innovations are making the world a smaller place. We can now connect with each other from virtually anywhere, which will become only easier in the years to come. For example, there is a possibility that we may not even need mobile devices with the potential of more powerful options in the metaverse. Three years ago, we could not have imagined a world that so intricately combines digital and virtual environments, yet this is already becoming a reality. Hence, organisations will need to pivot significantly, and this will entail another wave of “transformation”.

Furthermore, it is not only the pace of business and innovation that has changed fundamentally. According to a McKinsey study, companies are realising that their business models are quickly becoming obsolete, with many areas vulnerable to digital disruption. Companies will be tasked to build new digital businesses to remain economically viable.

Data will play a massive role in this regard. Looking closely at emerging innovations alone, they intersect at two places, and both boil down to data. One is silicon, where data is being processed; and the other is the actual data itself. I therefore foresee data playing a massive role in fuelling this new wave of digital transformation. I’d like to think that we are entering the era of the “dataverse”.

What are Syniti’s top business challenges in this age of digital transformation? What are your organisation’s data/digital transformation goals for 2023?

The digital transformation landscape is starkly different from the early days of the pandemic. Back then, the question that business leaders asked themselves was “How do I transform my business and digitalise?” Now, businesses are asking themselves, “What can I do with the data that I already have? How can I use it to drive improvements to our bottom line, supply chain, or operations to become more agile in the long run?”

Hence, our business strategy also has to evolve. While we have broken ground in helping businesses in this regard by expanding our offerings, the pace of innovation will definitely pose a challenge.

In 2023, our focus will be on evolving our data solutions to help businesses keep up with the demands of data, per the predictions I outlined earlier. If I were to sum up our strategy for our next phase of growth, it would be “We are picking up the PACE.” Here’s how I envision this happening:

  • Pivot: Instead of aligning our strategy to ongoing trends, we now need to pivot to keep up with forecasted trends. This means going to where the ball is going to be, versus where the ball is now. If the ball is heading to the metaverse or web 4.0, we must help businesses get there now.
  • Align: We must align all our activities to our value — that is, delivering the best data solutions to our customers. Instead of being obsessed with delivering the perfect solution, we will focus on delivering the right solution.
  • Convert: We are obsessed with data — and with this asset becoming increasingly ubiquitous, we want to convert businesses into data-obsessed organisations so they can thrive in the “dataverse”.
  • Elevate: By encouraging and propagating the use of intelligent data platforms, our aim is to elevate the data capabilities of business to achieve greater value and performance.

What are some of the most exciting developments at Syniti, specifically in the cutting-edge technologies you’re planning to adopt/develop? How are they relevant to your organisation’s future in APJ?

In the last year, we have expanded our enterprise offerings. First, we recently announced the first of multiple updates to our Syniti Knowledge Platform. The offering, called Syniti Migrate, aims to provide customers better control of their data.

We recognise that data transformation initiatives can be time-consuming and complex. Syniti Migrate is used in critical migration and consolidation projects such as mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, and ERP migrations.

We also announced the availability of our cloud-native Syniti Match, an AI-powered data matching software that supports both party and operational data.

It uses AI and proprietary linguistic algorithms to replicate the natural intelligence that humans use when forming data comparisons, at scale. This helps businesses eradicate errors and inconsistencies in data across multiple systems. Think typos, missing fields, and name variances; these issues make it near impossible for conventional solutions to accurately find true matches. Syniti Match seeks to address this challenge.