Forbes recently published an article entitled Firms Must Overcome Human Barriers to Enable Data-Driven Transformation, which pointed out that major investments that many organizations have made in the mechanisms for implementing “Data Driven Transformation,” have not immediately paid off. This on the surface may seem very disappointing and bring into question investments in advanced data analytics and related systems. However, a deeper understanding of organizations and how to transform them would lead to an understanding that implementing advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence tools and resources is not enough to produce a complete transformation of the organization with sustainable performance and results.

The mechanisms of “Data-driven transformations”, much like the related systems of “digital transformations,” are indeed impressive. These technology systems and tools enable a core need of organizations to be able to acquire and translate data, from inside and outside of the organization into information and then share it to support timely action. In fact, one of the greatest systematic changes that I’ve personally been involved with was a digital transformation of a child welfare case management process that literally saved the lives of some at risk children. This change introduced proven information technology tools and software to field case managers that used a paper process to document and communicate critical case information. The critical need came about because often case managers in this intensive and emotionally demanding profession changed leaving vital information to manage a risky situation trapped in paper files, waiting for a supervisor to review or assign to a new case manager. This new deployment of information technology was tremendously popular to the extent that the responsible governor featured it in speeches and it was covered by NPR. However, this new system did not transform child welfare because it failed to address the root causes of family problems necessary for preventing vulnerable children from being seriously hurt or dying.

Often investments in tools like information technology, advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence deceptively give organization executives and stakeholders a sense that transformative progress is assured. However, a holistic methodology is required for effective organization transformation. Effective and efficient organization transformation incorporates the elements of digital and data-driven transformations with business /organization strategy development and implementation, coupled with organization change management.

Dr. Robert H. Miles, Senior Advisory Consultant and I will continue this discussion in this place over a series of articles.