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Innovation and agility key to BI

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Across Africa, business culture is shifting from total autocracy – where only EXCO had access to business intelligence data – to a democracy, where the entire workforce works together, with the correct information at hand, to improve performance and bolster the bottom line. With this shift comes the need for visual data that is easy to access, and is innovative in its agility to answer multiple questions on demand.
Wolfgang Kobek, Qlik’s regional vice-president: EMEA, confirms that this means business intelligence tools must remain relevant. “Africa is changing the way it does business. When BI first arose, management didn’t want their employees to analyse data. Now we are seeing a cultural shift in giving employees more responsibility. If they are the experts in their fields, it is essential to give them the chance to apply their expertise to data analysis. This will result in business improvements, allowing employees to make better decisions, faster. The more you empower your employees, the more loyal and committed they are.”
It is important, however, that these employees have the ability to understand what is happening in the data. “Ease of use is one of the most important factors when clients are selecting BI and analytics solutions today,” stresses Qlik’s MEA regional country nanager Kerry Koutsikos. “Clients used to deploy BI solutions to the company’s management to help them in making decisions, then we moved to guided analytics, where applications were built and deployed across the enterprise. Today, clients want self-service analytics, allowing users to build their own applications anytime, anywhere.”
As such, the BI tools utilised must offer ease of use, mobility and visual representation of the data. “The relationship between different data elements can reveal hidden insights, offering employees more information in order to make better decisions,” believes James Fisher, vice-president: global product marketing at Qlik. “Hidden insights are really informative and allow the business to identify and enter untapped markets. In order to discover these insights, you have to be able to look at the data. This is where traditional BI tools can fall short; if a predefined structure is utilised, you will miss the insights that exist in related data elements.”
With every passing day, data becomes exponentially more voluminous and complex. “As a result, businesses must remain up to date in the toolsets and solutions utilised to manage and interpret this data,” says Jane Thomson, MD at South Africa Qlik Master Reseller. “The right solutions are versatile, able to operate in any industry with any kinds of data challenges.”
This was perfectly illustrated at the Qlik Southern Africa Summit 2017, where head ranger: ranger services, Ken Maggs addressed delegates, explaining how data analytics tools are being utilised to fight the war against rhino poachers.
“To move from reactive to proactive, intelligence is essential. With this solution, we can collect and manage all of the information we have (meaning the statistics), allowing us to perform predictive analyses,” confirms Maggs. “It is crucial to the disruption of organised crime.” At the Summit, it was announced that for every delegate tweeting the hashtag #SAQliksavesrhinos, R100 would be donated to Rhino Orphanage. This initiative was very well received, and R16 500 was raised for the war on poaching.
Data analytics must be used to prepare for the future – and if used properly, it can be used to shape the future that businesses (and people) want to realise.
“All the futurist trends have data underpinning them and rely on analytics to give feedback, allowing us to capitalise on trends and make them successful,” says Thomson. “Similarly, businesses need to be able to react to their changing circumstances a lot quicker than they’ve done in the past; and the right data analytics will help them do that.”