2020 was a life-changing year, and while some things may go back to normal, we took this opportunity to have a chance to return to better than normal. The change from AEC Lab and AEC Resource to Voyansi was more than just a brand change, we fundamentally changed the way we work.
At the end of the day, we deliver data. Over the next few weeks, I'll write about how we transformed our digital ecosystem to take our first steps as a data-driven company, from end to end. We believe this is possible for any company where information work is the primary medium. Evermore so, we believe being data-driven is a requirement to survive in the incoming competitive environment.
Part 1: Why rework the system?
Data ecosystems are more complex than any single person can comprehend. A company of individuals is much the same. To continuously generate positive emergent experiences as a team, we had to grow upon the right frameworks, platforms, and structures. To this end, as part of our transformation to Voyansi, we committed to establishing systems, workflows, and structures that maximize the productivity of individual team members to better service our customers and our own needs.
Our Ecosystem Requirements:
Similar to an implementation project, before beginning, we mapped out our ideal requirements:
- Navigate the company's systems with individual autonomy,
- Communicate freely and directly,
- Build trust in files, documents, and data that they find as truthfully represented,
- Access and contribute to a centralized knowledge repository,
- Have a clear understanding of past, present, and future tasks,
- Control information access to specific groups and teams,
- Manage content independently of the end deliverable,
- Adapt to the needs of our customers,
- Adapt to the needs of our business, and
- Work anywhere in the world.
We call these ideal requirements because even with a wonderfully designed system, human behavior remains a challenge. On top of the human factor, the world is changing faster than ever. Software that supercharges your ecosystem today may slow it down tomorrow. A company ecosystem requires careful attention and conscious care from every stakeholder involved.
A note on a culture of data literacy
The importance of a culture that prizes data-driven practices cannot be understated. It's impossible to magically create a data culture in any organization. However, we believe every organization is capable of becoming data-driven. It takes a conscious effort at every level to learn new skills. It's definitely not easy, and our growing pains are present and apparent. As our journey continues, we will definitely be sharing different perspectives of our story.
Mapping our current state
Before embarking on wholesale change, we always suggest you take a look at the current slate of systems you are using. The cost of implementing new systems both from a capital expenditure, but also user training and implementation experience cannot be understated.
New tools that worked for us
What works for us may not work for you. Every company has a different culture and different requirements. These platforms not only connect us as a business but allow our data to be interconnected, creating an integrated data ecosystem. We also would never get anywhere without the energy and willingness from everyone on the Voyansi team. They are truly what makes this adoption possible.
When it came to choosing new tools, first we examined our base needs: better instantaneous communication with ease of use, better data handoff between systems, and having a single source of truth for each need. Some of the platforms we choose include:
Direct communication that's accessible to everyone is the foundation of a healthy global team. With Discord, we instantly were able to get everyone on the same communication network. The drop in voice and video chat is something we're getting used to, but it's proved useful for our bilingual company. As a slack and teams alternative, we like the gifs.
Delighting customers is what we do. To do so effectively, we must understand the context behind every interaction. HubSpot is with us at every touchpoint. We've learned so much through Hubspot Academy and have found success putting these best practices to work. As we refine and mold the CRM area of our ecosystem to better fit how we work, we find ourselves more agile. Hubspot gives us a customer-centric view of our data ecosystem, giving asynchronous and shared visibility into the same pool of knowledge. This leads to a faster and more accurate response, predictive rather than reactive.
Change is in our nature. Lattice keeps our people focus on people, regardless of where they are. In a growth mindset, we best help each other by holding everyone to a higher standard. This is true in any direction, manager down, employee up, or cross-functionally. This openness is producing profound positive changes in our culture. Despite the distance, conversation and mentorship ritualized create deep connections.
Every company needs a foundational office tool. GSuite was a painful shift for a lot of our team. However, it is a change that will allow us to grow on more fertile ground. We stress at Voyansi the responsibility of every team member to design the way they work. GSuite apps are inherently collaborative, saving us the trouble of passing back and forth multiple versions. More importantly, they establish good practices of a shifting source of truth.
We love office automations. Google Apps Script helps us tremendously. Not only can we connect documents to each other, but we can also connect them to other applications in our ecosystem. Instead of being static repositories of information, seemingly simple documents become integral data interfaces.
BigQueryBigQuery integrates seamlessly with GSuite and is a big part of what makes our data ecosystem increasingly accessible to everyone in the company. Because everything we need is in one place, we spend less time delegating responsibilities and can split tasks on a capability scale. As a team member's data literacy and technical skills evolve, they progressively access a deeper part of our data ecosystem. We believe the people who are best suited to solve the people most familiar with the underlying domain. Empowering our team is how we do it.
Evolving as we evolve
We've done a lot in the past 5 months but we're just getting started. As we hinted above, the shift is beyond platform alone. Breathing life into a healthy data ecosystem requires the whole team. While we preach BIM for All, we practice it in-house by working to improve data quality, visibility, and access for all our team members. Through a heightened culture of data literacy, our organization becomes more sensitive.
Digital transformation is not easy, stay tuned for more stories about how we practice what we preach, subscribe to our newsletter!