Today's most successful businesses have an underlying digital platform that aggregates all information about their business in one central location.

We call such a digital platform a Common Data Model (CDM). Effective ones are structured as single sources of truth about the overall business, and they contain information everyone in the company agrees on and understands.

Companies that have established CDMs begin to improve their performance by developing a strong business-intelligence capability so they can learn which activities make money and which ones don’t. The companies follow that learning by using the CDM to systematically target both existing and potential customers while automating operating functions. The most-successful companies ultimately go on to manage their companies digitally by means of real-time enterprises.

As explained in the introduction to this series, Why Digital Matters Now, it is critical that companies become digitally mature to compete effectively. Many business leaders are ready to put their companies on the path to digital maturity but are unsure where – or how – to begin. Drawing on AlixPartners' extensive transformation experience that offers practical advice, deep insights, and expert guidance, we believe that digital transformation must begin with the establishment of a CDM and the creation of comprehensive business intelligence that gets applied in informed decision making and that automates processes based on real-time information. Continue reading to learn more about this essential first step on the path to Future Ready.