Creating Value with Data and Technology: Searching for the Missing Links

Whether you are attempting to achieve a distinctive customer experience, improve the efficiency of operations, or enable new business models – there are various missing links that may be preventing you from taking full advantage of all the available opportunities. An open discussion held recently with tech leaders in Amsterdam highlighted how it’s possible to maximise the value of technology and data.

About the event

The event was set up in order to enable the sharing of visions, experiences, and challenges relating to the use of modern tech and data. The overall aim was to help each other and each other’s organizations. “Innovation is simply unstoppable,” argued Levi9 CEO and co-initiator Bas de Reus. “Humans have an inherent desire to continue to develop. But the question is why, what, and how we do it – technologically, organizationally, and ethically.”


Efforts made in the back office often end up leading to unexpected benefits on the customer or user side. For example, in terms of operations, good data management can accelerate the transition from legacy, replacing it with a more future-proof IT. But it can also result in new business initiatives and an improved customer experience. The opposite can also happen, but, according to the input from participants, this is less of an issue.


Besides, when starting at the front-end, one can also easily end up in difficulties. This happened at a major executive organization that is increasingly positioning itself as a service provider, in common with many public institutions. When it optimized its customer experience and self-service options, this resulted in an unanticipated surge of requests, placing real pressure on the organization.

“In our efforts to improve customer satisfaction, waiting times temporarily increased,” explained the IT coordinator responsible. But if you want to make progress, you will inevitably encounter issues. “In any case, the use of data and technology is essential if current and future expectations are to be realized. New initiatives stimulate different ways of thinking.”


Indeed, this is something that society actually expects of us, agreed Erik van Ommeren, innovation expert at co-organizer Levi9. “People want more self-service, more control, and access to services and data that are of relevance to them. This applies at private organizations and in the public sector.”


At the start, the discussion focused heavily on the limitations: technological, organizational, and legal or regulatory. Almost everyone acknowledged the importance of data privacy, image, compliance, and risk management.


One of the attendees deliberately adopts a distanced approach when it comes to following the latest technology and data trends. “We’re dealing with the operational technology that still needs to be working in 40 years’ time and doesn’t necessarily need to be linked up to the latest solutions. In any case, all of the data stays within confines of the company. Proven technology matters much more to us.”


Before you can start focusing on business, you first need to have several basic elements in order. But there are solutions available for even the most difficult compliance requirements and for working with the most sensitive personal data. The main thing is knowing from the outset exactly what you want to achieve with data and tech. What opportunity or challenge are you aiming to address? What risks are you attempting to head off?


“The main issue is that data is seen more as a liability than as an asset,” warned the enterprise architect of a major financial institution. Good leadership not only requires an alertness to the limitations, but also a certain appetite for risk.

Middle Ages

Another attendee sees great future potential in Web3—the new generation of internet that is both more secure and more transparent thanks to blockchain. “That will eradicate many of the challenges mentioned around data privacy, security, and the increasing need for openness and availability of data,” said a former CTO, who is now involved in a technology scale-up. “This technology is bringing us from the internet of the Middle Ages to the modern day.”


But what should you do now in order to make further progress? “If you’re a smaller organization with limited budgets, the last thing you want is tech and data innovations that fail to deliver the advantages you anticipate,” argued the director of a medium-sized financial service provider. “How do you identify the most promising initiatives, and how do you bring ideas to fruition?”


In addition to an effective innovation funnel and the right mechanisms for selecting initiatives based on their added value for the customer or organization, co-creation was mentioned as a response. This involves collaborative development, working together with customers or technology partners. “That can definitely help prevent wasting time and money,” argued Levi9 CEO Bas de Reus. “The combination of internal and external expertise and knowledge ensures that opportunities can genuinely be seized.”

Under pressure

In addition, limitations in terms of resources or pressure from the market can also sometimes result in creative solutions, according to the CIO of a leading health-tech company. “Many breakthroughs are the result of being forced to think creatively. Rather than being preoccupied with the size of the budgets, you need to focus on the quality of the idea. It also helps if you have a corporate culture that encourages people to challenge each other. That, combined with Agile, lean start-up and design thinking.”


“Innovation always involves an element of uncertainty,” stressed Levi9’s Erik van Ommeren. “That’s true, but a proper innovation process increases the likelihood of success,” added his colleague Marc van Ogtrop. “Ultimately, it’s all about the outstanding execution of the idea. The first iPhone was not completely new, but it was the best version of everything that was possible at that time.”


It’s very important to have the time and space you need to be entrepreneurial. Experimenting, quickly facing setbacks, visualizing, and co-creating. In order to overcome the corporate immune system that mobilizes resistance to everything that’s new.


Leadership is essential in order to do exactly what the situation or organization demands and add all of the missing technological, cultural, or legal links mentioned. This will then bring the transformative power of data and technology within optimum reach.

In this article:
21 May 2023

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