Analytics help companies harness their data and use it to identify new opportunities, writes Paul Morgan, business unit lead for data, planning and analytics at Altron Karabina.

An international survey has found that 96% of respondents believe analytics will become even more important to their organisations over the coming years. This acceptance of data and analytics is heralding in a new era of business change better suited to the digital world.

All functional areas can be impacted by the application of analytics. Organisations that are consumer focused, such as telcos, can see quick wins by focusing on customer segmentation, churn prevention, and identifying new markets and products. Cost-conscious sectors, such as mining houses, often start with efficiency improvement, centred on risk reduction analytics, equipment performance, logistics, and the supply chain.

For all these organisations, understanding the types of data available to them can significantly assist in becoming more productive and return better value for stakeholders.

Connecting devices

Contributing to this era of data-driven decision-making is the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). The use of IoT in manufacturing is projected to generate up to $3.7 trillion of value globally by 2025 thanks to improved operational efficiency, predictive and preventative maintenance, supply chain management, and inventories and logistics enhancements.

Companies now have access to an unprecedented amount of data generated by sensors on virtually everything from stock in remote retail outlets to the efficiency of manufacturing processes by automated solutions. This ‘edge’ based data can provide numerous insights instrumental to becoming as efficient as possible and identifying new areas to pursue business growth.

Businesses across industry sectors are becoming more open to embracing different technologies that enable them to minimise spend and become better at data management and analysis. In turn, this enables them to identify the areas to invest in and the ones to cut back on.

Of course, there is a careful balancing act when it comes to introducing things like robotic process automation and maintaining investment in human resources. It is especially the case in a country like South Africa where high levels of unemployment and a strong labour union culture combine to pressure companies to manage people better using the technology at their disposal.

A better approach to leveraging insights from the data generated, is making the existing workforce more efficient and optimising the performance of equipment especially when it comes to the manufacturing sector.

Becoming pro-active

This is where IoT can help turn the focus towards the predictive maintenance of equipment. For example, sensors can identify irregularities and send alerts flagging possible break-downs. These early warnings can lead to a reduction in equipment failures and manufacturing plants being non-operational for a significant amount of time, and analysis of these alerts over a longer time period can help predict future breakdowns earlier in the process.

Given the current pandemic conditions, manufacturers and mines can use IoT and data management to better track employees. They can see the connections made by plant workers and miners and track their progress when it comes to the manufacturing cycle and mining, respectively. This helps the organisation better understand its human assets and help highlight where to focus in terms of efficiencies and other optimisation strategies.

According to research, Africa’s potential workforce will be among the world’s largest by 2030. When paired with the needed infrastructure and skills for innovation and technology use, data and analytics can deliver significant opportunities for growth. By better analysing their data, companies can now integrate their existing pockets of efficiency spread out across a disparate environment. This consolidated view of their data can improve business overall and unlock more potential by combining the best of labour forces and digital innovation.