How to leverage value from data that actually makes business better.


We all know that data is integral to business, but often the focus lies squarely on analytics and decision-making capabilities, when data is also critical to operations. Any investment into a solution to improve operational efficiency or solve operational challenges will be wasted if the underlying data does not support it. In fact, any time there is a change to systems or processes, a lack of understanding of data can get in the way of achieving business goals and leveraging value.

Poor-quality data not only carries an opportunity cost, but it is also often the cause of hidden costs – if you cannot find your data, understand it or trust in its integrity, then operations, agility, and business efficiency are negatively impacted. Master data management projects, if implemented effectively, should deliver intrinsic value that is sustainable, long term and repeatable, which in turn supports value realisation in other areas of business.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Often, master data projects are seen as this behemoth project that will take up to a year to make any difference to business. The truth is that they should never take this long to achieve value, and the reason they often do is that businesses will try and reinvent the wheel by creating a completely bespoke solution from scratch.

To provide a slightly ridiculous analogy, this is like buying a farm to bake a cake, when you could just buy a box mix from the grocery store, make the cake, and then decorate it however you like. With any data quality project, time to value can be reduced to just a few months by leveraging pre-existing solutions and tailoring them within a structured framework.

The goal of any data management initiative should be to take what is learned, make it repeatable and roll it out to the wider organisation so that, at an enterprise level, we develop a consistent way of working that delivers value. We need to understand both the strategic and enterprise applications of data and how we can leverage it to make business better.

Local is lekker

One thing we need to remember is that South African data is not the same as data from the US or Europe. It is inherently more complex, and as a result, solutions built for the American market will not work well unless there has been investment to make them work. The reality is that most businesses do not have the data quality skills needed to take these solutions and customise them to work with local data.

This is why it is imperative to have a local partner who understands the market and the challenges we face, and has the skills and experience required. Leveraging the expertise of the right local partner can give you a head start, by giving you a framework and a structure to add to and adapt to deliver best practices and maximum value. When looking to reduce time to value, ask yourself what your solution provider can bring to the table that will speed up the process, such as methodologies, frameworks, local knowledge, and experience.