Data as a Competitive Advantage

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Everyday, even the smallest enterprises generate immense volumes of data. Data is a valuable asset that can be collected and interpreted to unlock new improvements in the profitability margin of any business. There is enormous potential to advance financial and non-financial goals by using available data, such as in identifying gaps or opportunities that have gone unnoticed, making better predictions and decisions, or selecting areas to put more resources on. 

In Boston Consulting Group’s publication “The Digital Imperative”, it stated, “Digital transformation offers companies new opportunities to gain sustainable competitive advantage from data and to generate entirely new revenue streams, business units, and standalone businesses by capitalising on the data they hold.”

In the agriculture industry, digitalisation through cloud-based programmes that captures field and crop data can empower farmers in making informed choices for their operations, ultimately driving profitability. Software platforms can also connect disparate data on feed formulation, animal biometrics, and farm management and finances, creating a comprehensive analysis that changes how the agriculture industry works with their dairy customers. 

Within the mining and metals sector, digital technology is the enabler for integrated sourcing, data exchange and commerce. It provides the platforms and the applications to automate the exchange of information such as forecasts or delivery schedules with customers and suppliers, and boost collaboration across multiple steps of the value chain (which could take place across functions within one company or beyond, such as with key suppliers and customers). A 2017 study from World Economic Forum and Accenture estimates that the mining and metals industries will unlock $48bn cumulative economic benefit over the coming 10 years from integrated platforms and advanced analytics only. 

“Data flows” – the flow and effective direction of data to key decision points – will impact and contribute to the day-to-day management of companies through business innovation and digitalisation. However, nearly one-third of 1,300 companies from Europe and the US included in a study by BCG in 2017 revealed that changing corporate culture is among the top three challenges involved in digitalisation. Even so, the potential value and competitive advantage to gain from digitalisation is enormous.

BCG’s 2017 study found that digitalisation is creating a divide in the corporate landscape worldwide, and will pose a real threat to the competitive standing of companies if they do not take steps to close the gap with digital top performers.

At Chinsay, we have for many years worked closely with global companies to provide cloud-based collaborative platforms that digitalise key parts of trade processes. It starts with the basics, because using central online platforms and standardising work methods as well as data sets are prerequisites to unlock the value of digitalisation. Hence, companies on the journey towards digitalisation will find that their first step is to digitise documents and data (i.e. simply switch from paper documents to digital copies).

 Above: Chinsay’s illustration of a company’s evolution through the digitalisation journey for trade contracts

Above: Chinsay’s illustration of a company’s evolution through the digitalisation journey for trade contracts

Digitally advanced organisations may find that linking up functional silos and enabling them to communicate through connected platforms unlocks valuable benefits by
•    Enabling data extraction and analysis
•    Supporting real-time collaboration between functions
•    Ensuring compliance through the process workflow
•    Mitigating supply chain risks
•    Delivering a better service to customers

It is evident that embarking on the journey towards end-to-end digitalisation can enable significant improvements in overall business performance and be a clear competitive advantage.

 

References :
1.    “The Digital Imperative – Five Levers for Digital Transformation”, 2 March 2015, the Boston Consulting Group. [https://www.bcg.com/publications/2015/digital-imperative.aspx]
2.    “Beyond the Hype – the real champions of building the digital future”, 10 July 2017, The Boston Consulting Group. [https://www.bcg.com/publications/2017/technology-digital-beyond-hype.aspx]
3.    “Data” and “Digital Growth”, International Chamber of Commerce at https://iccwbo.org/global-issues-trends/digital-growth/data/
4.    "Fuelling Trade in the Digital Era" by Kati Suominen of Nextrade Group, July 2017, published by International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development [https://www.ictsd.org/sites/default/files/research/suominen_fuelling_trade_in_the_digital_era_0.pdf]
5.    “Digital Transformation Initiative – Mining and Metals Industry”, January 2017, White paper by World Economic Forum in collaboration with Accenture

 

Margaret Cheng