How Much Business Value Can I Drive from My Data?
In a recent episode of the Data Unchained podcast, host Molly Presley speaks with Deal Daly, VP of Information Technology at Toy Smith. Daly is a thought leader in technology, as well as in the overall innovation space of how data-driven businesses are setting up their infrastructure, their data processes, and their IT supply chains.
For the first 15 to 20 years of his business career, Daly notes that “it was all about how much infrastructure could I own, how many people could I manage.” In the past 10 years, he finds that it’s “more about how much business value can I drive. And the correlation to that is to get away from capital-intensive activities. It’s difficult to be agile if your sunk costs are gonna last for five years or more.”
As a result, Daly migrated to using SaaS services, cloud services, and “as little infrastructure as possible.” This approach allows his team to be agile if a change of direction is needed.
“The focus of my career has evolved into digitalization, that’s a tongue twister of a word, but it’s really around automating everything and focusing on the data as regards to the enterprise, supply chain, ERP, B2B, CRM and so forth,” Daly explains.
“In order to make progress and be able to help the business move more quickly, we had to get out of our own way. We had to encode processes that would allow things to happen automatically rather than having IT people, or even business people, intervene in the middle of a process to do some manual activity.
Digital Transformation as an Essential Component of Business Growth
Digital transformation definitely leads into the storyline of CIOs, VPs of IT, and others with a technology focus to really think more about digitizing the business, helping the business be more agile, and then using the data of the business to continuously add value, according to Daly.
“The faster we made processes happen, the more business would come back to us and say okay, that’s great, let’s make it even faster. So then the focus was to automate everything that’s possible so that we can improve the entire flow of productivity throughout the business,” said Daly.
With automation, Daly’s team can see the flow going from the beginning process of demand management all the way through to order processing and CRM.
So how did Toy Smith implement this?
Since technologists often report to a CFO or a COO at the high level, cost is frequently the measuring stick to make sure we’re staying within the budget, said Daly. “If you have fairly strong guardrails around spending, then the only way to innovate is to create savings within your world and identify opportunities to repurpose those dollars to an innovation topic.”
To do this, he recommends focusing on the cost savings and agility that IT innovation will bring to the greater business. “That’s like the starter log in the fireplace. It can be small, but it sends both a cultural message and a real, practical message that we’re going to pay to learn how to innovate.”
Once you start that cycle, you can pilot something new, get some advantage, bring those advantages back to the business, and then you become more of a strategic partner to the business in terms of driving agility and scale.”
“I think you have to get outside of your own comfort zone…the three mantras I focus on are efficiency, scale and agility in terms of driving businesses forward,” said Daly. “These create a cycle of innovation that will constantly throw off benefits to the business. If we can create efficiencies, then we can then repurpose dollars, help the business be more agile, and then we can do it at scale.”’
Listen to the full podcast episode with Deal Daly – and subscribe to our podcast to receive updates with new episodes! You can also follow Daly on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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