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SA looks to address data quality

Neil Thorns, Informatica's  territory manager, sub-Saharan Africa

Neil Thorns, Informatica's territory manager, sub-Saharan Africa

South African enterprises are paying closer attention to the quality of their data, as their need increases to harness data for improved operations and better customer experience, says Informatica Corporation.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Informatica World Tour in Johannesburg, Neil Thorns, Informatica's  territory manager for sub-Saharan Africa, said data quality had emerged as a key concern among local enterprises. "There is a big focus on data quality to improve the quality of decisions companies are making.

"South African companies have bad data, whether they are willing to admit it or not," he said. "Many of them would be lucky to have 50% accuracy within their data. So when companies want to contact customers or run campaigns, they can't because their data is wrong. We are dealing with entities with multiple systems riddled with inconsistencies, which makes it extremely difficult for them to make sound decisions."

A major reason for poor data quality is the way the data is captured at the outset, he says. "There must be business rules in place for capturing the data and automating processes to increase the probability of the data being accurate and highlight data that may be flawed. You need to be able to profile your data, see where the issues are and then go and fix them," he said. Companies that do not do this end up having to bring in experts at intervals to clean their data, resulting in unnecessary cost and the risk of new, inaccurate data being added in the intervals between cleaning. "Data quality and data governance can't be maintained through a one-off project. It has to be an ongoing, sustainable process."

He added that data accuracy must be measurable in order for companies to manage their data effectively, and that ownership of and responsibility for the data should rest with business, not IT. "There is the ongoing battle between business and IT, where each sector believes the other should own the data. Really, business owns the data and IT just hosts it."

Thorns noted this presented good opportunities for Informatica's data governance framework and tools in South Africa. "We have had a direct presence in South Africa for just over three years, and we are seeing strong interest in our master data management and data quality solutions. This is partly because our time to value is exceptionally quick. Our data quality projects can take as little as three months because we don't have to develop new tools, we simply configure our own tools. In line with the configuration, we have a whole visual environment which is an easy tool for business to use."

These tools are seeing increased uptake in South Africa, where Informatica expects to achieve strong growth in the coming year, he said. While it does not have a direct presence in neighbouring countries, the company is also seeing increased demand for it to support its clients as they roll out into the rest of Africa from a South African base.

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