5 minute read 29 May 2019
Crowd clapping hands in the air

How to power-up your growth strategy through data and technology

By Tony Qui

EY Global Strategy and Transactions, Chief Innovation Officer

Passionate digital leader and innovator transforming companies in disruptive growth through M&A, partnership and JVs. Connector of corporates and start-ups. Proud father of two children.

5 minute read 29 May 2019

Data is a conundrum. It can empower and constrain. By deploying technology solutions in combination with human insight, transformational strategies can emerge.

Data is a blessing and a curse. It can be a catalyst for growth as well as an inhibitor to decision-making. Imagine this – you run a company in the retail sector that has traditionally performed well in a conventional market. Within your industry, you are increasingly seeing that your competitors innovate in new and unconventional ways as they follow the changing habits of the consumer. Players who once occupied adjacent territory are now setting up shop in your backyard. How do you act and what insights should inform your strategic next steps? Do you have the information you need to unlock these insights? What other data do you need?

The data landscape is simply massive. Data generation is happening at an astonishing speed and it shows no signs of slowing down. An estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being created each day. Putting this into perspective, if you take every single book that exists on the planet, this would only account for 6% of the total amount of data ever generated.

The pace of disruption means that companies need to transform faster than ever to lead in the market. With traditional internal investment strategies not always offering enough bang for their buck, more companies are having the buy versus build debate. Do they continue to invest for organic growth which can be slower, or do they acquire the innovation they need to accelerate growth? The majority of companies (74% in an EY survey) are now opting for inorganic growth – through M&A, joint ventures (JVs), partnerships or alliances.

Data generation is relentless. Companies can be overwhelmed by this data avalanche. Yet, in the recent survey, 41% of CFOs told us that insufficient data is a primary barrier to the optimal allocation of capital — a clear sign that there is still much work to do for companies to have the right data to support their strategic decisions.

In the meantime, switched-on companies are gaining a competitive advantage by learning how they can gather, analyze and interpret data to inform their growth strategy. But they are the exception, not the norm. So, how can more companies power up their growth strategy by plugging in technology?

Connecting technology solutions with clients’ expectations

As the volume and pace of disruption increases, so does the need for faster business transformation strategy. M&A is a common option, as we have seen, but is itself being transformed as companies expect deal professionals to use a range of cutting edge technologies to help drive efficiency and deliver value throughout the entire M&A lifecycle:

  • From strategy – enabling inorganic growth by effectively identifying upfront the targets they would like to partner with, invest in or acquire.
  • To diligence – getting sharper insights and by enabling them to be in a better position to evaluate the company and negotiate a deal.
  • Through to execution – delivering value against the M&A strategy.

EY Strategy and Transactions teams have developed a suite of targeted tools, specifically tailored towards each stage of the M&A lifecycle, helping our clients penetrate through the avalanche of data. EY Connected Capital Technologies ingest data, process it, and apply analytics and artificial intelligence to extract out actionable data points to help clients to really deliver on their strategic priorities. Let’s look at how this might apply to the strategy front end of the M&A lifecycle.

Better insights for better strategic growth

Having the optimum growth strategy is about fully understanding the ecosystems in which you operate. A business no longer operates in a single ecosystem. It also needs to consider the ecosystems of suppliers (and its suppliers’ suppliers) and customers (and its customers’ customers). Those organizations who adopt the right mindset to think in ecosystems will increasingly be the ones who succeed in this transformative age.

This is not an easy ask. For example, understanding just three co-investor ecosystems into a target can sometimes lead to multitudes of further companies to explore. Real clarity can only be achieved using technology and a big data approach.

EY Embryonic is a powerful tool within the Connected Capital Technologies suite developed to help clients define an inorganic fast-growth strategy through M&A and partnerships. It offers a single global view of the business landscape across public, private and start-up organizations. By ingesting millions of data points from structured and unstructured public and private company records to news articles, patent data and social content, it brings ecosystems to life in real-time. Millions of transactions over the past 20 years – including mergers, acquisitions, JVs, investments, partnerships and strategic alliances – map the relationships between traditional and innovative companies, offering a unique understanding of a company’s strategy, the adoption of new developing technologies and sector convergence.

Let’s take a moment to think again about the fictional retail company introduced at the beginning. Imagine this is your company and you have engaged EY Embryonic to give you a 360-degree view of the ecosystems in which you and your entire value chain occupy. You see that your competitors are investing more heavily in start-up tech firms and are forming stronger alliances with infrastructure partners. Perhaps this is to get a head start on new payment systems that better speak to their customers’ lifestyles, or it might be to engage in innovative customer relationship platform technologies. You now have the advantage of seeing where the investment, and divestment hot spots are and where the smart money is going. This gives you the insight needed to search out potential acquisition targets to keep you ahead of the game and compete.

By enabling these kinds of conversations, EY Embryonic arms our advisors with a range of options to help clients resolve their most critical questions – those that are instrumental in helping them develop and refine their growth strategy. By plotting a roadmap to who they should connect with, which are often start-ups and disruptors themselves, they are able to get in front of the disruption curve and the competition.

Agile, bespoke and collaborative approach – the ABC of success

With these new technologies comes agility. At EY Strategy and Transactions, we are not building heavy back end systems such as ERPs; we are building very agile, bespoke solutions tailored to the clients’ needs and developed in collaboration with them.

We believe that data should help with the solution, not become the problem – a blessing, not a curse. Consider this – out of the estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of data that are being created each day, only less than 1% is analyzed and leveraged to its full potential. Imagine what’s possible if your business unlocked just a few more percent of that valuable data? The possibilities are endless.

EY consultants harness the power of the Connected Capital Technologies to help companies turn their data into actionable strategic insights: fueled by data, powered by technology, driven by people.


The rapid pace of change means data is everywhere and growing at speed. Companies need to transform faster to keep up. Technology is the answer to navigate a path through the data minefield. Combined with the insights from our advisors, data gives leaders the direction needed to make informed choices about what’s next for their business.

About this article

By Tony Qui

EY Global Strategy and Transactions, Chief Innovation Officer

Passionate digital leader and innovator transforming companies in disruptive growth through M&A, partnership and JVs. Connector of corporates and start-ups. Proud father of two children.