Why effective data management is critical for businesses


It is becoming increasingly complex to manage enterprise technology ecosystems. The range of new technologies of the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” that are fusing the digital and physical spheres have an impact on all disciplines, economies and scale.  

So writes Phil Marneweck, co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of South African data solutions startup MTS Holdings.

These factors, in addition to an endless list of vague buzzwords have caused more confusion for businesses than offer effective solutions to manage technology and data effectively.

Recently, some technology enthusiasts have made the proposition that “data is the new oil”. This is yet another meaningless buzzword that is thrown around boardrooms and networking sessions alike. To relate data to a natural resource implies that effective data management sits outside of the enterprise when in fact it is a core part of the business and should be managed as such – from the inside.  

A quick Google search of other buzzwords and phrases renders the following results (approximate):

Big Data: 322 million in 0.88 seconds

Internet of Things: 274 million in 0.71 seconds

Machine Learning: 127 million in 0.94 seconds

Digital Automation: 96 million in 0.72 seconds

Artificial Intelligence: 85 million in 0.53 seconds

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: 2 million in 0.82 seconds

What these results show is a progression from big data to “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”. What it does not show is that data is the thread that holds it all together. Now imagine having to manage all this data in a single business: collect, store, categorise, share, transmit, analyse, measure and report on it. If the business is not geared to handle this data – notwithstanding having an enterprise data warehouse in place – it would be a mammoth mission. The business is simply not prepared; an unpreparedness that causes most businesses to fail at:

1)  implementing an enterprise data warehouse,

2)  choosing the right data-driven software solutions,

3)  effectively integrating solutions, and

4)  extracting the value that data-driven systems can deliver.  

Lack of the right data management foundation, tools, processes and capabilities to simplify effective data management is an opportunity missed to automate costly workflows. This negatively impacts business process efficiencies.

Many enterprises still manage and maintain data using excel spreadsheets and non-relational access tables. This means that data management of a particular “business process” is associated with a person or department. This creates a risk profile for the business. The advantages of making data work for the business is just not fully utilised. The onus rests on business leaders and divisional heads to maximise the benefits that data-driven software solutions, systems, analytical insight and services can offer the business.  

Here are three business reasons why.  

Process optimisation

Workload automation is key in optimising business processes for the future.  By implementing the right software, businesses can avoid repetitive and redundant tasks, and instead invest in skills that require complex problem-solving, management and social skills – ultimately abilities that tend to be much more fulfilling.

Business efficiencies

As operations and assets increasingly rely on digital infrastructure, smart software systems offer businesses greater efficiencies. This is because many workflow tasks that were done manually can now be done, not only automatically, but also simultaneously. Effectively, businesses save operational time that can be reinvested into other, more critical, areas such as product development, customer service and strategic management.

Agility and data-driven decision making

Employing the right data-management software enables businesses to adapt their operations accordingly. This is because it is easier and less costly to tweak software than it is skills. It further enables management to have metric visibility, which allows for monitoring, evaluation and modification of workflow strategies. Having access to valuable metric management empowers management to act with data-driven decisions. Agile business processes should be a core strategy for any business today, especially corporations that lack agility.

We need to approach data management differently to fully unlock the power of the data in an organisation.


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Key players from Africa's startup and investment ecosystem post on issues close to their heart for Disrupt Africa.

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