03/06/2015 08:21 BST | Updated 02/06/2016 06:59 BST

Working, and Thriving, in a Digital World: Cloud and Data

To a professional services executive focused on delivering results, terms like "mobile," "social," "cloud" and "big data" can sound like little more than buzz words.

Yet, together, these four technologies converge as today's platform for digital business. And when harnessed properly, they can drive real change within your organisation.

So what is the true value of these technology forces?

In this two-part blog series, I explore the value provided by each of these technologies in turn. Having already examined mobile and social, I'll now focus on cloud and data.


Transitioning to the cloud should not be your end goal. Instead, the cloud should be merely a means to an end.

Why? Passing ownership of infrastructure like cloud to a vendor partner is a win-win position. The ownership sits with the vendor, while you, the client, are assured of first-class performance governed by contractual service levels.

Your service provider can make investments as agreed; meanwhile, you are free to innovate. And that freedom will be key to your firm's future growth.

For example, in recent years, the role of CIO within a professional services firm has become more focused on strategy and planning, making a move to the cloud essential. This investment frees CIOs to partner with their CEOs on change - a mutual win.

Big Data

Everyone is talking about big data. But what makes big data so, well, big? In a word: answers.

For professional services firms, big data is not about P&L, utilisation, client profitability or project margin reports. Yes, these are important. But big data is really about having a deeper understanding of where best practice exists both within your own business and in other top professional services companies.

Big data is about mining the answers to questions like:

• What is the time from work being done to cash collected?

• Which of my business units are best at this and what differentiates the best business unit compared with the median and worst?

• What impact does it have on my margin when we review our fixed fee projects monthly rather than biweekly?

An industry-specialised ERP solution contains these and other answers, paving the way to improved margin and faster growth. Having that level of information separates the leaders from the followers.

For example, during recent work with a global client, I was able to prove that moving from a monthly to twice-monthly commercial review of fixed fee project progress led to a minimum five percent higher project margin. By taking advantage of the client's data, we were able to boost efficiency and, therefore, profit.

Ultimately, big data means being empowered to make important workflow modifications, ensuring increased business governance and process in margin-sensitive areas.

Rising Above the Pack

Moving to the cloud and having access to big data gives you the insights needed to rise above your competition. To unleash the true power of social, mobile, cloud and the wealth of answers contained in big data - and therefore realize improved margin and outsized business growth - turn to a trusted a partner with deep insight into your industry.