Elevating Experiences with Modern Data & Systems (Part One)

Elevating Experiences with Modern Data & Systems (Part One)

Mitigating Workforce Challenges and Enhancing Community Experiences Through Data and Systems Modernization

State Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies are continuing to navigate chronic workforce shortages and evolving legislation, regulations, and funding mandates. All the while, they are seeking to find new ways to prioritize the patient experience to meet their goals of improving public health, providing high-quality care, and building trust with the communities they serve. Managing this myriad of challenges requires unprecedented levels of data-sharing and cross-agency coordination, as well as modernized data and digital systems. But legacy siloes and boundaries have created blind spots, and the teams that are working diligently to create the experiences HHS constituents and employees expect are only as empowered as the data and technology available to them. In the blog series below, we detail why data and systems modernization is the key to delivering consistently positive experiences. We explore the role of operational preparedness in data and systems modernization and provide insight into how North Highland helps organizations consistently deliver scalable, repeatable, and predictable experiences for constituents and employees.

Modernizing Data and Systems to Deliver Safe and Reliable Experiences 

The growing rate, scale, and cost of natural and manmade crises has generated a challenging environment for emergency management organizations. On top of this, the industry is facing a chronic shortage of skilled workers. Up against these challenges, emergency management leaders must identify ways to strengthen their operations so they may provide impacted communities with critical needs and ensure they are delivering safe and reliable experiences. Plus, they must focus on extending those positive experiences to their workforce, with the aim of reducing turnover. A proven way to achieve these goals and navigate the current turbulent environment is with modern data and systems. Our blog series examines how undergoing modernization can help leaders harness insights and foster future-ready organizations. Applying these concepts can help emergency management organizations respond to emerging crises with agility, while effectively and reliably supporting the communities they serve and the individuals they employ. 

Building the Future of Finance for Premium Employee and Customer Experiences

Amid escalating business expenses and heightened regulatory scrutiny, financial services firms have doubled down on stable, low-risk operations. This commitment has, at times, resulted in companies being burdened by legacy systems and technical debt, hindering their ability to keep pace with the rapid transformations seen in other industries. However, leaders in financial services are acutely aware of the imperative for modernized data and systems in delivering the kinds of experiences that today’s customers and workforce demand – experiences that are predictable, repeatable, and seamless. Most financial services firms have been on the journey toward digital transformation for over a decade now. Yet, their endeavors have underscored the challenges involved in retiring manual processes, connecting an enterprise, and completing foundational tasks crucial for successful data and systems transformation. That's why, in this three-part blog series, we return to the fundamentals and demystify the steps for evaluating and addressing the challenges and common barriers to achieving data and systems modernization. The ultimate goal? To arm you with proven tools and strategies to deliver experiences that will help ensure your sustained relevance and success.

Harnessing Better Data for Continued Breakthroughs

Life sciences organizations are just catching their breath after years of rapid-fire breakthroughs in vaccines, treatments, ways of working, and more. With organizations rapidly moving toward greater patient engagement and embracing AI to advance R&D, data is the bedrock for the future of breakthroughs. But disparate tech stacks, data silos, and a long-standing cultural resistance to sharing data could put the brakes on progress. Maintaining the breakneck pace of change of recent years will require organizations to modernize their data and systems capabilities. In this blog series, we detail the importance of operational preparedness to data and systems modernization and highlight the four common problem areas that can be resolved through modernization. We also provide insight into how North Highland helps organizations assess and establish common structures and systems that optimize for simplicity, integration, and a growing flywheel of data.

Steering Toward Tomorrow with Modernized Data and Systems 

In a favorable funding and policy environment, transportation leaders are in the driver’s seat. Many have embarked on a new journey to transform from serving as people and product movers to orchestrators of a mobility ecosystem. And they’ve been handed an incredibly ambitious mandate—transform to be safer, cleaner, and more equitable for their customers. Despite an influx of funding to deliver a future-ready infrastructure, there are road bumps ahead. Public transportation ridership is shifting and the pressure to decarbonize, autonomize, and electrify amid a workforce crisis can feel stifling. On top of these challenges, many legacy transportation organizations lack the modernized data and systems needed to overcome these challenges and deliver the experiences today’s consumer demands. In our new blog series below, we detail three concepts to help transportation leaders in this environment: 

  • Value of scalable, predictable, and repeatable experiences 
  • The role operational preparedness plays in effective modernization 
  • The importance and process of assessing current state, and  
  • The common obstacles of modernization. 

Unlocking Innovation and Creating a Cohesive Energy Experience

The energy and utilities industries are on the cusp of massive transformation, as innovative leaders pursue new strategies for increasing production and supplying new geographies. And they’re attempting to do so with fewer human resources, greater cost efficiencies, and a generational shift in their workforce. All the while, customers expect a more cohesive energy experience than ever before. But legacy data and technology infrastructures make harnessing the wealth of data available to industry leaders difficult, if not impossible. Overcoming these hurdles requires strong, modernized data and systems. The blog series below details how modernizing data and digital systems can help these industries overcome hurdles and confidently undergo transformation while still delivering quality experiences to their customers and workforce.  

Building Modernized Data and Digital Systems with Managed Services or Teams-as-a-Service 

Amid constant change and competitive pressures, businesses in every industry are growing increasingly aware of how critical the customer experience is to bottom-line growth. Yet, many organizations still lack the accurate and reliable data and technology they need to consistently deliver elevated customer experiences. More importantly, they lack the internal know-how to do so at the rapid pace at which customer preferences are evolving. When attempting to cover these gaps, conventional sourcing methods will likely fail to deliver. A dedicated, adaptive co-sourcing partner, however, can respond to the constraints and forces in and outside your business. They can help you champion modernization by ensuring that you have the right operations in place. In this blog series, we detail the role of operational preparedness in data and systems modernization. By strategically filling gaps in your talent strategy, co-sourcing with a Managed Service (or Teams-as-a-Service) can help your business traverse the modernization roadmap and drive your business strategy forward quickly and confidently. 

How do I advance my data and technology to enable my organization and deliver stronger customer and workforce experiences? Discover below.  

More than half of customers will switch to a competitor after only one bad experience – that number rises to 73 percent after multiple bad experiences.   

It’s clear that bad customer experiences can create major vulnerabilities for your organization’s bottom line and reputation. But in the reverse, Forrester projects that investing in customer-first operations leads to 700 percent ROI over just 12 years.  

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of how critical the customer experience is to bottom-line growth, with many planning to modify their budgets accordingly. But what many leaders often overlook is how to equip their business for the rapid pace at which customer preferences are evolving. Constant change and competitive pressures call for experiences that are not only remarkable, but also capable of being scalable, predictable, and repeatable. 

Graphic defining the terms scalable, predictable, and repeatable


Every leader, being a customer themselves, understands the importance and influence of a positive customer experience versus a negative one. But this awareness alone doesn’t guarantee the satisfaction of their own customers. On the contrary, we often find today’s leaders lack the accurate and reliable data and technology they need to consistently convert their understanding into scalable, predictable, and repeatable customer experiences. 

And what stands between businesses and enabling these experiences is modernized data and digital systems. Graphic explaining data and systems mod according to North Highland

Despite ramping up spending in these areas, many organizations are still held back by a critical obstacle: operational preparedness.

Your operating model is the foundation for effective transformation, and readying your operations is the primary path to modernization.  




So where do you go from here? This first installment of our new blog series will take you through: 

  • Five major benefits of readying your operations for data and systems modernization, 
  • A four-part checklist for assessing your data and systems current state, and 
  • Seven engaging questions to help you connect these topics to your own enterprise.  

We’ll also address how the principles within this blog apply to your own people, too: Because streamlining your employees’ working environment is equally critical to having more satisfied customers. 

By applying the concepts we cover here, you'll be on the path to modern and sophisticated data and technology systems, solutions, and structures. This way, your customers and employees can consistently enjoy scalable, predictable, and repeatable experiences. 

The value of readying for data & systems modernization 

Before we break down the phases of data and systems modernization, let’s outline some of the value your business stands to gain from recovering your digital enterprise in today’s landscape. 

Value #1: Extracting Insights for Scalable, Predictable, Repeatable Experiences. The primary value of preparing for (and eventually achieving) modernization is consistently delivering scalable, predictable, and repeatable experiences. Through modernization, leaders can unlock critical insights and make more informed decisions that support customer and workforce retention. It’s simple: Employees want to work for reliable organizations that set them up for success. And customers want to buy from ones they trust.  

Value #2: Raising your ROI. Many organizations are increasing budgets and rethinking strategies to better capture and satisfy customer preferences. These tactics won’t be nearly as effective without modernized solutions that help leaders obtain strong data. As we reinforce throughout this blog, reliable and accurate insights are the price of entry to building solutions that work and maximizing the return on your investments. This includes spending that is directed toward meeting the needs and preferences of your customers.  

Value #3: Maximizing Mergers and Acquisitions. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are on the rise – up by 34 percent since November 2022. Absorbing a new organization into your own or joining forces with another enterprise makes it paramount to have your systems in order. Having strong data and digital capabilities is the key to ensuring a smoother transition and quickly benefiting from new data, talent, and customers.  

Value #4: Innovating with Automation. Automation isn’t the antithesis to creative ways of working – it’s the fuel. It can prevent you from being bogged down by manual operations, processes, and ways of working, so you and your teams have higher capacity for strategic thinking and innovation. By modernizing your data and systems capabilities, you can get your business out of crisis mode, and let them focus on forward-thinking ideas and tactics. Modern systems allow your people to identify and streamline the most routine and predictable pieces of the process. In turn, they can focus on new and emerging challenges. One prevalent example is integrating AI into business processes – which we explore in part three of this series. 

Value #5: Encouraging Knowledge Transfer. The best strategy for overcoming today’s talent and capability shortage is enabling rapid and seamless knowledge transfer – an approach made easier by modern data and digital systems. Data gives you vital information for identifying and overcoming talent gaps, so you can strategically upskill and reskill existing employees to meet those needs. And when it comes to acquiring new talent or supporting internal hiring, enhancing technology can provide a more seamless and accelerated onboarding process.  

Of the benefits outlined above, possibly the greatest impact you will experience is how each of these aligns to collectively improve customer and employee experiences.  


The journey to data & systems modernization 

It’s true that modern data and systems power scalable, predictable, and repeatable experiences. But it’s critical for leaders to remember that these systems are only as effective as the people using them. And the teams that work diligently to create positive experiences are only as empowered as the data and technology available to them. That’s why it’s paramount that yours are strong.

Luckily, the process of modernizing your data and systems can be broken down into three simple phases

  • Phase 1: Assessing Your Current State 
  • Phase 2: Fortifying Your Foundation 
  • Phase 3: Moving to Modernization 

It’s worth noting though, that delivering scalable, predictable, and repeatable experiences isn’t just the result of these phases. Rather, scalability, repeatability, and predictability are individual capabilities that your organization will develop and foster throughout the process of data and systems modernization.  

Let’s take a closer look: 


Modernizing phase one: Assessing your current state

Discovering where you are to determine where you need to go. 

The first step toward data and systems modernization is assessing your current state. In other words, evaluating your data and digital capabilities. Without this foundational step, it becomes nearly impossible to accurately plan where, what, and how you need to make changes for improvement.  

Here are three specific reasons current-state assessment can help your organization: 

  1. Horizons Thinking: More than focusing on your organization today, current-state assessment encourages your teams to see past current state as a stopping point, and view it as a strategic step in planning for the future. 

  2. Maturity Continuum: Assessment will shift the perspective of current state to being seen as a maturity continuum, so you can build with a future-focused mindset.  

  3. Critical Thinking: This is especially true when partnering with third parties for current-state assessments, as you will be able to eliminate bias and invite critical thinking on systems where stakeholders may otherwise be inclined to bring prejudice.   

But keep in mind, assessing your current state should be habitual. This cycle of continuous evaluation should become second nature to your organization so you can plan while evolving – accelerating the benefits you stand to gain.  

The data and systems challenge checklist: 

Necessary criteria to assess and repair the health of your data and systems. 

Inspired by challenges we’ve helped our own clients overcome, we’ve compiled common problem areas to create a Data and Systems Challenge Checklist.

  1. Disconnected Enterprise
  2. Manual Processes
  3. The Lowest Common Denominator
  4. Lackluster or Unreliable Data

Each of these problem areas – collectively or individually – can create a kink in the chain of your operations. Acknowledging and addressing them is a crucial first step in readying for modernization. 

Let's dive in: 

Problem Area #1: Disconnected Enterprise. Are the various functions of your business executing on their own strategies or trying to solve problems from their own vantage points, using separate processes and tools? Are there clear or subtle barriers to cross-functional collaboration? If so, you’re suffering from a disconnected enterprise. When your workforce and operations are fragmented, this misalignment inhibits strategy realization. To correct this, you must first encourage leaders to agree on enterprise-wide strategy and derive work and investments from that common goal. Then, bring everyone together under a common operating model by using the same processes, governance, tools, and data. The result? Teams that can make decisions that are effective, efficient, and rooted in shared accountability. 

Problem Area #2: Manual Processes. Is your organization mired in manual processes – like using outdated spreadsheets for data management? Is this causing your teams to tread water day-to-day, rather than making substantial progress? Are your employees missing the necessary data to make informed decisions? As we mentioned earlier, manual processes prevent organizations from streamlining operations and paving the way for workforce innovation. On top of freeing up time and energy, strategically automating your processes increases accuracy and consistency. Because with fewer manual processes, you’re reducing the margin of human error. 

Problem Area #3: The “Lowest Common Denominator.” Are you intentionally or unintentionally leaving pockets of your business behind? Are corners of your organization using outdated systems, processes, or tools? Many organizations have dipped their toe in data and digital transformation but have failed to realize this needs to be an enterprise-wide endeavor. These pockets further feed into the problem of a disconnected enterprise and ultimately obstruct an effective transformation. You’ll only perform as well as the lowest common denominator, so if you want to optimize your data and digital investments, they need to reach every corner of the organization. 

Problem Area #4: Lackluster or Unreliable Data. Are your data sets inconsistent or inconclusive? Difficult to convert into decision-driving insights? Not capturing a holistic view of customers and employees? As we’ve stressed above, leveraging data to drive customer and workforce experiences will only have a positive impact if you’re prioritizing data quality

You should be able to answer questions like: 

Is the data accurate? 

Are there errors, inconsistencies, or outdated information? Are there any gaps? Are leaders aligned on how certain metrics are calculated? 

Is the data relevant? 

Does it align with strategy objectives? Does it fit into our analytical models?  

Is the data trustworthy? 

Does it come from a single, reliable source? Is it current and up to date?  

Remember: The end-goal of exploring these problem areas is understanding how overcoming them – thereby achieving data and digital modernization – will create better experiences for customers and employees. Use this assessment period to ask yourself: 

  • “Where am I seeing enterprise disconnection most impact my customers or employees?” 
  • “How could manual processes be preventing me from hearing what my customers are trying to tell me?” 
  • “What is my lowest common denominator and how is it preventing the organization from improving employee and customer experiences?” 
  • “How could lackluster data be disrupting my organization’s ability to make informed decisions about what’s right for our customers?”  

Setting the direction 

As we’ve indicated, there are some critical (yet often overlooked) steps between making the decision to optimize workforce or customer experiences, and actually delivering those enhanced experiences. While the key ingredient is modernized data and systems, it’s equally vital for leaders to realize: 

  • The value of scalability, predictability, and repeatability 
  • The role operational preparedness plays in effective modernization 
  • The importance and process of assessing current state, and 
  • The common obstacles of modernization 

Essentially, awareness is critical. Before a business can fully realize the benefits of experience-led transformation, there must be a keen, enterprise-wide awareness of today’s challenges before it can effectively strategize and implement a path forward. Without setting the direction, any new approaches, strategies, or investments may prove ineffective and ultimately fail.  

At North Highland, our experts stand by the value of setting the direction so you can design a top-notch roadmap to modernization, mobilize your teams, and reach your desired future state. By helping you thoroughly assess your current state, we work with you to repeat what’s working while still making the changes your customers and employees want to see. And we make this possible through a future-focused mindset that prevents you from getting too caught up in where you are today, so you can stick to a plan that is incremental and achievable.   

coming up next narrowIn the next installment of this series, we’re entering Phase Two: Fortifying Your Foundation. In this piece, our experts offer tried and true tips for addressing the common obstacles – disconnected enterprise, manual processes, lowest common denominator, and lackluster data – with the core principles of modernization. 



Elevating Experiences with Modern Data & Systems (Part Two)


Elevating Experiences with Modern Data & Systems (Part Three)