Building an effective data foundation

Building an effective data foundation
Yolanda Smit, Strategic Business Intelligence Manager at PBT Group.

Building an effective data foundation
Yolanda Smit, Strategic Business Intelligence Manager at PBT Group.

Data is integral to the success of business in a digital environment. It assists in driving growth and enables the development of customised solutions. So why then has it become easy to forget about the importance of putting the right foundation in place to ensure data links effectively with business strategy?

Cloud computing, real-time analytics, and machine-learning are gaining traction in an increasingly connected business landscape. By using elements of these approaches, the C-suite can radically streamline operations and differentiate the organisation better against competitors that might be lagging. However, in the rush to embrace these (and other) solutions, the business will put itself at risk if the underlying data layer is not sound.

Ultimately, the data foundation is critical to the broader process when it comes to strategy and the ability to derive insights from the information stored in back-end systems.

Data everywhere
Despite concerns around the processes involved in ensuring governance is met in this data-rich environment, it provides decision-makers with the ideal way to test the veracity of their data. Consider the regulatory requirements of adhering to the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI) or other data-dependent legislation. If the company is unable to comply, chances are that the structure and processes it follows around data management are inconsistent.

On the flipside, investment in data management has the knock-on benefit of putting renewed focus on the security of the data as well. With compliance and security going together, the organisation must take a more considered approach to ticking the boxes when it comes to the data foundation and whether it meets all governance requirements.

Thanks to the growth of mobility, there is an increasing awareness of the role that data (specifically that which is derived from employees in the field) can play in solution development. Managing the influx of this data while balancing the requirements of the organisation, and the capabilities of data warehousing and business intelligence solutions, become key elements in the process.

Using the right skills
Capitalising on the in-house data already built up, companies should consider appointing data engineers, as well as data manager or governance roles, to help manage all aspects around it [the data].

These specialists will be able to more accurately and effectively view and test the data foundation to ensure it grows according to business requirements. Furthermore, extending the data capability with data scientists, they will be able to extract the necessary value from data to help guide in the development of more customised solutions built around unique customer requirements.

A solid data foundation is therefore not just one solution but a hybrid approach to get the skills, mindset, and practical components all integrated in the organisation. This will assist in driving business value and align the data to any new solutions and technologies that are implemented in the organisation.

By Yolanda Smit, Regional (Gauteng) Director at PBT Group