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Why a ‘digital control-tower’ model is key to business success

Cathy Mauzaize Profile picture for user Cathy Mauzaize January 31, 2022
Cathy Mauzaize of ServiceNow shares why the 'control tower' approach to managing your existing systems and data is so important - and how to make it a reality.

Control tower at Dulles airport © Falkenpost - Pixabay
(© Falkenpost - Pixabay)

The business world is evolving, fast.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that organizations across the globe were quickly forced to learn a vital business lesson — keep up with the changing times, or risk getting left behind.

To survive, businesses have to re-focus on creating processes that are not just flexible, but also future-proof. This can be tricky at the best of times, but factor in an ever-changing global pandemic and it becomes almost impossible.

However, the right set of tools and the right strategy can help turn the impossible into a walk in the park.

Think of an actual walk in the park… But one with hills and plenty of vistas. Up until now, businesses have focussed their efforts on short-term initiatives driven by what they can see from the ground-level, or rather, the limited data available to them from that specific viewpoint.

This approach is great when it comes to driving change on a small scale, but has a finite impact on the bigger picture.

In order to unlock a whole new range of data available to your business, and use it to drive change, you'll need better visibility across all of your processes.

Enter, the ‘control tower' approach.

How it works

The ‘control tower' is, at a basic level, a platform which allows you to unlock the true value of your data, obtain a 360º view of your organization, and ensure you retain a good grasp on your digital transformation at all times.

Going one step further than your average data platforms, which are often designed only to satisfy IT, control tower architecture is designed to meet the needs of your business as a whole.

The result? More seamless integration and better collaboration company-wide.

That's important, because in order to get a good handle on how the pandemic is affecting your business right now, you need to be able to see the whole business.

The last two years have had an impact on every department, every employee, and every process. Despite this, we're still seeing a very real disconnect in the way businesses approach transformation initiatives.

The tendency is for organizations to deal in separate, single systems put in place across each department.

This approach comes with multiple risks; it can cause confusion when it comes to limited scope, it's difficult to communicate any changes at board level, and it can be tricky to maintain visibility over what each team is doing, what's working, and more importantly, what isn't.

A control tower approach, which unlocks both data and scale, provides a clear, singular direction for these initiatives that starts right at the top and trickles down, reducing these risks and ultimately freeing up the potential for innovation across the entire company.

How to make the control tower approach a reality

It might sound overwhelming, but getting started is probably more simple than you might think.

First, take stock of the key areas of risk in your business. You likely already have a good idea what these are already. These are the places you most need oversight, and will provide a valuable jumping off point for your approach.

Next, it's a case of deciding exactly who needs to be part of the conversation - think department heads, senior management, even board members.

Once this is done, take a moment to audit all of your existing systems, capabilities and data sources which are involved in the key areas identified. Chances are, these will span much more widely across your organization than you imagined. However, it's important to make sure everything is captured, as these will form the foundation blocks of your control tower.

It's then a case of combining all of the relevant people and systems with a clear, overarching platform. In time, you'll be able to add more business functions, piece by piece, until the entire organisation is covered.

It's simple, but it works.

Take an example from the finance industry. Financial companies are heavily exposed to risk. The growing importance of ESG has created a very real need to demonstrate complete compliance, and that means that organizations in the industry need to be able to show exactly where funds are coming from, or face significant fines.

The control tower approach brings all relevant stakeholders on board, then assesses every system and data source that plays a role in supply chain management, compliance, or any other area that becomes important. Then, all of that gets plugged into a system like ServiceNow, and the control tower is fully operational, ready to support.

From there, it's quite simply just a case of expanding its oversight as business priorities require.

A better vantage point with the control tower approach

With a control tower approach, you can completely revolutionise the way you do business.

Whatever you're looking to achieve, whether it's to streamline your processes, unlock your data potential, or provide a better experience to your employees and customers, a clearer view of everything around you makes it that much simpler to act.

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