It’s been 30 years since Tom Cruise's “Maverick” battled his fellow fighter pilot “Iceman” to be Top Gun. They engaged in a classic struggle that had first one then the other gain the edge.

In much the same way, data and process are now vying for prominence in today’s digital transformation efforts. 

Who will win the digital battle? 

Well, just as Maverick and Iceman ultimately joined forces to demonstrate the value of teamwork over individual ability, so too must process and data come together in order to create transformative business results.

High Stakes for Digital Transformation

The stakes are high for getting digital transformation right. One recent study found that businesses must transform with digital technology to survive — and must make their move now. A full 85 percent of enterprise decision makers surveyed felt they had a timeframe of two years to make serious inroads or be left behind.

Despite the urgency, we continue to debate the question of whether process or data holds the true key to meaningful transformation. This seemingly endless loop not only slows progress, it misses the point. 

We should be asking: How can I use process and data to drive the most value for my customers?

Certainly, business processes are essential to transformation as the engines of work activity. They move workers forward in their daily jobs, help propel strategic initiatives, and perhaps most importantly, provide the framework to make and implement business decisions. 

And because information fuels business decisions, data is critical and most valuable when properly served and effectively consumed in context by people in the midst of equally critical business processes. 

The conclusion: Bringing together process and data for digital transformation can be a powerful means to make better business decisions and deliver significant customer-centric improvements.

Still not a believer? These best practice stories illustrate what is possible when you let process and data combine forces: 

Insuring Future Customer Satisfaction

In the insurance industry, disconnected data and processes can unfortunately be the norm. For one large insurer, it seemed an impossible mission to respond efficiently to customer inquiries. The insurer had siloed data, manual processes and walled-off systems between departments. Even in a single line of business, the contact center service reps used completely different systems than the operations teams, with different views of the customer.

A single customer request to the insurer could require access to more than a dozen different systems and an excess of manual work. Customers were frustrated, calling multiple times for the same request. And with no self-service capabilities, customer volumes and dissatisfaction were on the rise.

According to Deloitte’s insurance industry outlook, insurers are recognizing and responding to these kinds of silo issues by steadily increasing spending on digital technology and core systems transformation. The advice the consultancy gives to insurance companies is to “innovate according to customer expectations.” 

The insurer in this case study decided to implement a unifying digital platform in the cloud. The implementation gave the call center and operations teams a single and complete customer information picture, and the ability to perform the required customer service work as a streamlined process. The solution freed data held in silos in the back-end systems and eliminated the need to maintain separate systems across call center and operations. Further, exposing the platform capabilities via a customer portal allowed the insurer to enable self-service.

By bringing process and data together with a unifying platform, the firm transformed customer experience. It delivered a decrease in operational costs, faster customer response and introduced a new self-service business model that ultimately led to a significant increase in its customer satisfaction net promoter score.

Transforming Patient Safety

According to Bain’s Getting the Dose Right, the healthcare industry is rapidly adopting digital technologies. In two years, 93 percent of US doctors will use electronic medical records and 97 percent will have electronic access to treatment protocols. 

This is a call to action for pharma companies. 

It‘s not only that pharma customers are changing. Now digital tools and data are poised to transform the pharma industry and leading firms must get out in front of the wave.

One area that is ripe for digital transformation — pharmacovigilance. Pharmaceutical companies regularly monitor the safety of their products to determine whether adverse events observed among patients require remediation. To remain compliant in these cases, a report of any serious and unexpected adverse drug experience must be filed with regulatory authorities as soon as possible, but no later than 15 days after detection.

For one multinational company, the existing legacy tracking system was slow and required an onerous level of manual reporting effort, exposing the company to risk.

The company implemented a new “silo breaking” solution that allowed seamless tracking from signal detection to labeling decision. The process can scale globally and stay current with ever-changing regulatory requirements for drug safety. By uniting data from across the enterprise and the field with core pharmacovigilance processes, the company increased visibility, control and speed across the pharmacovigilance program. 

Users can enter and track safety signal information from detection through decision point and ultimate response, with a full audit trial. The solution provides a secure centralized repository for safety signal information and enables rapid generation of safety-related internal reports and regulatory filings.

By bringing process and data together, the company cut “signal to label” time, reduced data-driven errors and gained significant cost savings through process automation. Perhaps most importantly, the company achieved its critical goal of improving product safety tracking and assuring patient safety. 

The Need for Speed

In automotive and equipment financing, speed is everything. Yet one leading automaker’s European financing arm was taking days to grant loans. Why? The symptoms were familiar — data trapped in silos or on paper, labor intensive processes and disjointed error-prone manual tasks. 

This firm chose a flexible technology platform to drive multiple adaptive case management apps. The platform ensures coordination of all the documents related to a new request for credit. 

For each request the dealer initiates a new “case.” The list of required documents is identified and tracked throughout the credit process to meet the target goal — to approve or reject a new leasing request in 30 minutes. This transformation has greatly improved the customer experience, with loan granting reduced to minutes or as they say, “the time it takes the customer to choose their options.” The case persists beyond the loan grant and into servicing, and additional promotional offers.

In fact, adaptive case management can serve as a digital transformation platform to differentiate business practices and implement improvements across the board in customer experience and engagement. One best practice implementation I reviewed included not just leasing and credit processing, but also dealer contract management, sponsorship management, order and delivery, and claims management.

A Combined Approach Delivers Top Results

The business executives in my customer examples did not fixate on whether their data or their processes played a bigger part in their digital transformation. They focused on serving their customer better — bringing process and data together to improve customer experience, ensure safety and accelerate service.   

Time for us all to move forward and bring process and data together — what better way to master the digital danger zone and deliver top results?