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The power of data

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Thanks to the increasing number of connected devices, the volume of data has exploded. In fact, expectations are that the digital world will contain 44-trillion gigabytes of data by 2020. Armandè Kruger, regional sales director at PBT Group, examines this changing environment.

“How companies are utilising their data has become a key differentiator. With everybody having access to data, there is no place to hide. Decision-makers either need to use data or risk losing out to their competitors,” he says.

Virtually every device generates and accesses data. As a result, a large portion of technology companies now focus on how best to manage bandwidth given the volumes of data at their disposal. And when it comes to mobility, Africa presents one of the biggest growth areas.

Unfortunately, business still needs to invest heavily to address Internet connectivity challenges. However, once this stumbling block has been overcome, the possibilities of how data is used, as a corporate and a consumer, will change how we operate.

“This has resulted in many vendors coming up with all sorts of buzz words to sell data solutions. Even new professions such as, data scientists, have become increasingly essential for business. The truth is that despite all the glitz and glamour, everything still boils down to what the requirements are of your clients. In many respects, data is just a form of statistics that can be interpreted any way you want,” he says.

For Kruger, managing data requires a change in mindset.

“In this real-time world, a corporate user does not have the luxury of being thorough. The speed of analysis has become essential in the market. It has become a way of life to simply scan through emails and other data because there is so little time.”

He says concepts like customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and business intelligence (BI) need to be approached differently. As an example, transactional financial systems need to be auditable while BI needs to understand client requirements and act on it – even if the data is not 100 percent accurate.

“Even industries (like manufacturing), which rarely relied on BI, has to embrace it thanks to the Internet of Things and all the devices that generate data. Now they can analyse and pick up things like problems with logistics or equipment to respond quicker and beat competitors.”

Even security around data has changed. In the past, strict policies governed all parts of it, but that has changed thanks to the pervasiveness of apps. Very few people even check the permission requirements of a new app before installing it. Even banking clients with cloud solutions are no longer holding on to all their data.

“Security is becoming less of an issue – but not out of choice, but out of design. The speed to access data and analyse it means there needs to be compromises made in certain areas. Fortunately, regulation does dictate the important elements that still need to be taken into consideration.”

Additionally, when it comes to the Big Data trend, decision-makers are still figuring out how best to benefit from it and how it will evolve. Previously, the focus was on reporting and dash boarding but now it is all about data analytics. The realisation is finally there that data needs to be analysed.

“We know the data wave is approaching, and our lives will change irrevocably as a result. How we approach this, will be up to us,” he concludes.