Technology has revolutionised the way every facet of the world operates. Driving this revolution is data, without which, none of the changes we’ve seen in the last few decades would have been possible.
“The common maxim today, is that data is more valuable than oil,” says Rezelde Botha, Business Unit Manager for data and analytics at Axiz, a South Africa-based value-added ICT distributor.
And it is this commodity, that Botha says is driving all major business decisions today. “Data is vital to helping businesses better understand their customers’ needs, as well as what is happening in the markets they operate in.
It is also the key to understanding what drives our customers’ purchasing decisions, how successful our marketing efforts were, and more importantly, what we need to be doing better.”
She says there is no question that in today’s world, data is indispensable. “For any business, having the ability to gather its data, and analyse it to gain insights that can help the company make strategic decisions, is critical. However, the amount of data is growing exponentially, and organisations across the board are bursting at the seams, making this a highly complex and onerous task.”
Data is big and it’s only going to get bigger, Botha says. “Consider the number of Internet of Things and other devices that are now producing and capturing data we have these days – this number has exploded over the last decade. The data we are accumulating every second has reached monumental proportions, and is growing by exponentially massive proportions each day.”
She says big data is made up of three V’s, namely volume, velocity and variety. “In this way, organisations in every industry need to deal with data that is huge (volume), is growing rapidly (velocity), and comes from a wide range of sources (variety).
And of course, with each ‘V’ comes a unique set of challenges. “In this day and age, I believe velocity is the greatest challenge, as new data is flooding us so rapidly, there simply isn’t enough manpower or time to deal with data manually. Data is outpacing our ability to manage it.”
“This is where big data analytics can be enormously beneficial to any business. These tools are purpose-built to examine vast amounts of data to pinpoint hidden patterns, correlations and many other insights.
The big data and analytics tools we find today, give organisations the ability to analyse their data, and get almost instant answers from it, something that would never have Big data analytics enables businesses to harness the power of their data and use it to identify new opportunities. In turn, this leads to smarter business decisions, more efficient operations, cost savings, and improved customer experience.
“These technologies, bring dramatic cost advantages when it comes to storing vast quantities of data, and while they are doing this, can highlight more efficient ways of doing business. These tools help businesses analyse their data immediately, and make decisions based on what they have been told.”
With this, a business has a much better ability to measure customer needs and satisfaction, and through identifying patterns of behaviour, can give customers exactly what they want, and design products and solutions that meet their needs, she adds.
There’s no question that data can be a competitive differentiator for the world’s top businesses as they look to transform themselves digitally too, says Botha. “Data and analytics are fuelling every businesses’ digitisation and transformation efforts, and these tools are being used to stay ahead of the competition. In fact, analysts Gartner, predicted that within three years, a staggering 90% of business strategies will cite information as a critical business asset and analytics as a non-negotiable competency.”
Any organisation’s ability to compete in the emerging digital economy will require the right decisions to be made, and at speed. These decisions will need to be predictive, and look to the future too.
At the end of the day, Botha says that businesses of every size, and in every industry that are not investing in the way they manage their data to move them into the technological future, are at risk of becoming organisations of the past.
“Businesses who wish to succeed, and remain ahead of the curve, need to constantly strive for operational excellence. Keeping relevant and improving all the time is key to innovating and improving products, processes and services by boosting efficiency and increasing quality. It is this ongoing effort drives a competitive advantage for companies who get it right but consistency is impossible to achieve without the help of data and analytics tools.”