Using Data To Improve Your Digital Core: A Q&A With Expert Data Scientist Yves Mulkers

Ursula Ringham

Part 1 of the series “Transforming Your Enterprise for the Experience Economy

We are in the age of experience. It’s essential to power your digital core with innovative technologies like automation, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence to transform your business to meet your customers’ growing needs and expectations. And we need to do it at a breakneck pace.

But technology, in and of itself, doesn’t drive change; it’s how you leverage the data that lives inside it.

To manage technology and business processes in a way that positively impacts the customer experience, having the right data strategy is a must. We recently spoke with Yves Mulkers, business intelligence and data architect, and asked him to share the right data strategy for processes and the digital core. Read our full conversation with Yves below.

Q: What inspired you to pursue business intelligence and data architecture as your area of expertise?

A: Back in the day, I was the technical guy doing data integration and development. But I was also trying to reach out to the customers I was creating programs for to understand what their needs really were. I didn’t want to develop based off of my assumptions; I wanted their input. With business intelligence, it felt like I could more easily bridge the technical development with business understanding and value.

My interest in data architecture was triggered by questions like, “How do you need to set up your data?” or “How do we get started?” Few people can answer those questions and advise business leaders on how to start. That’s where I want to help. I want to help businesses answer:

  • What is the data you have?
  • How do you need to model it?
  • What is your business problem and how can we solve it with data?

Q: What operational insights are necessary to achieve business process digitization or optimization?

A: A lot of companies already have their business processes documented. They have an overview and understanding of how they are set up. But processes are mostly documented on an individual basis. Having a holistic view of business processes across the complete organization is still a big challenge for companies. And if we take it a step further, tying those business processes to core systems, applications, and data is an even bigger challenge.

Organizations need that holistic view so they can anticipate how process changes will impact the business as well as each department. They need to bring their data assets together in a complete overview so they have the contextual information needed to make informed process optimizations. This type of enterprise data modeling is very complex and hard to do, but it’s possible to achieve with the right systems, applications, and technology like artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

Q: How can enterprises more quickly recognize and react to patterns and trends in historical data?

A: Use your gut. It’s always a challenge to identify the real fruit in historical patterns and trends. Sophisticated enterprises use data models and technology to automatically detect important patterns and trends, but these systems often lack the business understanding necessary to judge the information and inspire action. You still need human input to say, “Okay, this trend does make sense” or “this is very questionable,” and we need more information to make a right judgment on that.

Q: In your opinion, how can technology help bridge the gap between business functions and reduce disconnection within the enterprise?

A: Technology is a great help in bridging gaps and reducing disconnection within the enterprise. If you have all of your information, data, and processes on one platform, it’s already a lot easier to integrate those different disconnected processes and get to that holistic view for the company. And technology enables companies to tie all of that together. Technology also provides organizations with an easier way to share insights, breaking down silos. Employees can then expand their business understanding by looking into different business units to see what’s happening before them or after them and not only within their own silo.

Q: How does having a sophisticated digital core with the ability to automate processes and provide predictive insights impact the customer experience?

A: Thanks to technology like process automation and predictive insights, customers can expect more personalized advice and service. Technology also enables those insights to be delivered much faster. For example, doctors are very knowledgeable. They know how to treat their patients, they know each patient’s treatment history, and they know similar cases that are shared with them from fellow doctors. But if a hospital is able to integrate all of those insights and information onto a platform, they can deliver that information to their patients much faster than a doctor can deliver it. I think technology will definitely help improve the customer experience in this area.

Q: Tell us about a memorable experience you had with a brand as a customer. What made the experience so special?

A: There is an online retailer I use because they always live up to their promises. They set clear expectations and provide customers with all kinds of ways to get goods delivered. And most of the time, they get it right. But if the delivery goes wrong (which is the fault of the intermediate company who does the shipping), they apologize and take action to correct the experience. They’ll send me a second product or they might give me a discount on a future purchase. They go out of their way to make customers feel good, even though some negative points that happened in their supply chain are not completely in their control.

This retailer also has systems that are so well integrated that when I picked up the phone to call, they already knew who I was and the type of experience I was having. And when we continued the conversation over Twitter, it was a seamless transition, even though we were communicating in a new channel and I was probably speaking with a different team. Their integrated systems helped personalize and eliminate friction in my customer service experience.

Solving the experience economy equation

Customers demand and expect exceptional experiences from their favorite brands. To meet this demand, it’s becoming clear that enterprises need deeper insight into their own organization. They need to bring their front-office and back-office data together for a more holistic, complete view of their customer experience and how to enhance it. And they need the right strategy and the right technology to do it.

To help you become an Intelligent Enterprise that marries the right strategy with the right technology to solve the experience economy equation, we asked 25 futurists, technologists, and experts for their recommendations. See what they had to say.

About Ursula Ringham

Ursula Ringham is the Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP. She manages social media and digital marketing strategy for the small and midsize business community. She was recently recognized as one of 15 Women Who Rock Social Media at Top Tech Companies. Prior to SAP, Ursula worked at Adobe and Apple in their Developer Relations organizations. She managed strategic accounts, developer programs, edited a technical journal, managed content for an entire website, and wrote and taught course curriculum. In her spare time, Ursula writes thriller novels about the insidious side of Silicon Valley.