The world contains an unimaginably vast amount of digital information which is getting ever vaster ever more rapidly. Facebook alone is home to 40 billion photos, 864 000 hours of videos are uploaded to Youtube every day, and in one day, enough information is consumed by Internet traffic to fill 168 million DVDs.
This makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.
But the fact that information has gone from scarce to superabundant is also creating a host of difficulties for companies looking to leverage this data.
Despite the abundance of tools to capture, process and share all this information, the information within the data is difficult for many organisations to access.
“How do organisations make sense of all this data? Today’s algorithms and powerful computers can reveal new insights that would previously have remained hidden, but one in three managers frequently make critical decisions without the information they need, one in two don’t have access to the information across their company needed to do their jobs, and three in four business leaders say more predictive information would drive better decisions,” says Gerald Naidoo, CEO of Logikal Consulting.
“Business analytics is the key. By bringing optimised performance, informed decisions, actionable insights and information, business analytics can help your company outperform and out-manoeuvre the competition and answer fundamental questions such as How are we doing? Why? and What should we be doing?”
He adds that this applies equally to the public and the private sectors, as the information explosion offers unprecedented access to insights. “For example, digital records should make life easier for doctors, bring down costs for providers and patients and improve the quality of care. But in aggregate the data can also be mined to spot unwanted drug interactions, identify the most effective treatments and predict the onset of disease before symptoms emerge.”
Data is becoming the new raw material of business: an economic input almost on a par with capital and labour. Sophisticated quantitative analysis is being applied to many aspects of life, not just missile trajectories or financial hedging strategies, as in the past. Logikal Consulting’s CTO, Mahesh Chavan, explains that it’s all about flowing data better, managing data better, and analysing data better, and one of the tools the company uses to achieve this for its clients is IBM’s analytical software.
“Unlike standalone software vendors that only focus on the short-term needs of the business user or big ERP providers that rely solely on centralised IT deployment of their add-on analytics capabilities, only IBM is delivering a single, integrated business analytics system,” Chavan explains. “IBM is also the only vendor to offer a suite of solutions – including industry accelerators that address analytics, planning and performance management process areas that directly impact an organisation’s ability to create business value. These Blueprints are quick-start models that speed implementation, reduce ROI and bring in industry best practices in planning, scorecarding, reporting and more, maximising the effectiveness of any implementation.”
As new economic challenges present themselves, and as new technologies and trends emerge, the insight and foresight needed to drive better outcomes are becoming increasingly important. The way that information is managed touches all areas of life. “The data-centred economy is nascent. You can see the outlines of it, but the technical, infrastructural and even business-model implications are not well understood right now. We provide an approach that offers complete, consistent and accurate information that decision-makers can trust to improve business performance,” Naidoo concludes.