Most organizations seek to become insights-driven, but few enterprises attain mastery over data to be one.

In a recent case study report, Forrester examined how digital natives like Gojek are leading the way to building advanced insights-driven operating models.

The intense competition in the ridesharing market for South-east Asia has put tremendous pressure on Gojek and Grab to furiously out-innovate one another — particularly as they expand their product portfolios into hitherto unpenetrated areas such as digital payments.

With a huge amount of consumer data, how they each use this data is the most important source of competitive advantage.

To be truly insights-driven, business technology leaders must retool their organizations across multiple dimensions — talent, organizational design, process, and culture — to graft data into the corporate DNA of the enterprise.

For example, Gojek strove to create a data-rich environment within which to deploy applications and platforms that support hyper-growth through speed and innovation.

Gojek customizes its insights-driven approach to make it unique to its business. However, it shares similar principles with other insights-driven firms. These principles have allowed Gojek to find success in its incredibly dynamic, highly competitive environment while scaling across markets and entering new product categories.

DigiconAsia caught up with Leslie Joseph, author of Forrester’s Gojek case study report, for further insights into the DNA of an insights-driven organization.

Many organizations today seek to become insights-driven, but what does it take for enterprises to attain mastery over data to become truly insights-driven?

Leslie: Becoming insights-driven is not just about technology. Forrester’s research into firms’ insights maturity shows that successful insights-driven business live by five key principles.

Firstly, operating models are based on data-driven insights – and not on an executive’s gut feel.

Secondly, it’s not data for data’s sake; insights-driven firms have a strong focus on driving actions, and outcomes, through insights.

Thirdly, insights-driven firms are continuously learning and experimenting in closed-loop, agile cycles.

Fourth, insights-driven firms’ investments in technology are strategic, since these firms realize that their ability to activate the data-to-insights-to-action loop is the only real source of competitive advantage.

Finally, insights collection and implementation is a team sport. Successful firms embed the focus on data and insights deep within their organizational culture and team structures.

In Gojek’s case, as with other digital natives, their investments in organization-wide data literacy, their agile pod-based teams that form around specific business problems, and their implementation of a common data language to broadcast all business events across the organization, are all examples of insights-driven behaviors.

What are some key traits in the markets served by organizations such as Grab and Gojek, and why is data and insights critical to their businesses?

Leslie: Markets such as Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand etc. are experiencing a digital sunrise. Consumers are adopting digital technologies and super-apps for convenience, but they also demand excellent consumer experiences.

Companies such as Gojek and Grab have had to scale each of their products rapidly and dramatically while consistently delivering great in-app experiences. To complicate this, the market for product categories such as rides or food delivery are very sensitive to real-time conditions. For example, both demand and supply for rides can change dramatically if it rains during rush hour.

As I mention in my report – Gojek and Grab have similar business models, similar features, the same target consumer segments, and access to similar consumer data. How they each use this data is the most important source of competitive advantage for these companies, especially in such dynamic markets.

In the wake of COVID-19, what difference can being insights-driven make?

Leslie: Even before COVID-19, Forrester’s analysis had indicated that insights-driven businesses have been out-performing their peers and growing exponentially – at least seven times faster than global GDP. In today’s world, every successful and disruptive business across industries uses insights as its currency.

COVID-19 has radically changed the game for many industries, and creates opportunities for nimbler, more agile and disruptive firms to widen the gap between them and their more traditional competitors.

How should organizations such as Grab or Gojek adjust or adapt to the ‘new normal’?

Leslie: COVID-19 offers both threats as well as opportunities to companies like Gojek and Grab.

On one hand their core ride-hailing and transportation businesses have been hit. On the other hand, delivery has boomed as consumers prefer to order more and more categories of products and services.

Both Grab and Gojek, just like Uber and other similar services around the world, have been pivoting to this new business environment. This includes bringing about a greater focus on rider and customer safety in the delivery of their services.

At the same time, these companies have been focused on helping create opportunities within the broader ecosystem.

Grab has been running a small business booster program in select SEA markets to help drive greater digitization, digital shopfronts and e-payments integration. Gojek has been using its accelerator program in Indonesia to help retail startups focus on direct-to-consumer business models. The pandemic has accelerated the push towards digital, and digital natives must adapt to both the threats as well as the opportunities that this ‘new normal’ provides.