Unlocking the true value of your organisation's information

By mahlokoane percy ngwato

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By Kim Andersen, Account CTO at T-Systems South Africa

Data volumes are growing exponentially. But as increasing amounts of information about customers, markets, and products/services engulf organisations, we need to look at data in a new way.

To achieve true digital transformation, the organisation needs to stop viewing information storage as an ever-expanding cost that needs to be contained, and realise its worth as a strategic asset that can be effectively leveraged for competitive advantage.

Historically, certain information would be stored in a specific warehouse, to be used for a specific purpose. For example, a bank would store a customer’s Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) documents for the express purpose of ensuring compliance fulfilment, and making sure the documents are available to the regulator upon request.

When stored and used in this silo-based approach, the data sets have no opportunity to enrich each other, to help the organisation better understand the customer, or to ultimately contribute towards providing customers with a better experience.

Organisations should start by distinguishing the data that is key to their business, from the supporting data. Often, this first step is to consolidate data sets relating to customers, to achieve the so-called ‘single view of the customer’. From there, other data repositories and sources on the periphery of the organisation can be correlated to that core data, increasing its usefulness.

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A great example of this approach to information assets is found in New York City, where the police force merges data from thousands of surveillance cameras, with information from radioactive sensors, 911 calls, license plate readers, and a number of public safety databases.

At the heart sits a set of transactional data, the historical crime records of the city, which acts as the digital reference point. The data from all the other sources is then correlated to, or fed into, this framework. This enables proactive policing, where police officers and police vehicles are dynamically allocated to different locations at certain times.

RELATED: Building businesses with Big Data - the African way

In the corporate environment, a cohesive approach to Big Data also enables what we refer to as ‘extensible collaboration’, where information is more easily shared with external parties, within and across value chains.

By connecting to each other via APIs and other forms of integration, companies as disparate as aircraft manufacturers, weather broadcasters, and household insurers can engage in new, “virtual” value chains.

RELATED: Big Data in Africa: IBM Dissects a Developing Trend in a Developing Market

With a modern approach to data management, organisations can benefit from the future of machine-generated data, where sensors from all kinds of industrial household items can transmit data back to central points.

Read the August Issue of African Business Review. 

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