Building data-driven success - MBA Alumni event with Professor Thomas Ritter

Thomas Ritter, one of the most beloved MBA professors, opened the first MBA Alumni event of 2017. His passion, enthusiasm, humour and strategic insights are one of the qualities that make his classes one of the favourites in the MBA programmes. And last night proved why this is the case.

He shared his insights on a topic that has confounded the minds of many executives across multiple industries, the problem of how to monetise data.  To prove this point, he started off his session by asking the audience "Do we have a lot of data", the answer was unanimous "Yes". Then he followed up with another one "Do we make money from it", and contradictorily the answer was a resounding "No".

Building data-driven success

Despite the abundance of available data, organisations are estimated to only be using 3% of this data, thus highlighting the enormous untapped potential. Ritter's research "From Big Data to Big Business" has identified three main areas in which organisations need build capabilities for data-driven success.

1. Establish a data-driven foundation through ensuring you have the correct data supported by robust IT systems, high competencies in analytics, and alignment with the law to avoid time wastage on non-usable data
2. Build a data-driven organisation, one that has a clear strategy and business development goal supported by a culture of autonomy
3. Ensure the variety in the data-driven applications within your company so as to cover optimisation, penetration and diversification agendas.

In summary, data should be an essential part of any 21st-century company as most of the service transitions (“servitization”) and disruptions are data-driven. However, businesses need to be aware of two things. Firstly, most of the successes start with a customer need, not a technology. Secondly, most of the data-driven strategies start below the radar and as projects.

The evening concluded with networking drinks for alumni, students and their guests.

By Khanya Vokwana-Shabalala, Full-time MBA student 2016-17