Business

Using data to gain a competitive advantage

The drive to use data to gain a competitive advantage needs to come from all levels of the organisation, says FNB's Farren Roper.
The drive to use data to gain a competitive advantage needs to come from all levels of the organisation, says FNB's Farren Roper.

Data can be a catalyst for many different innovations, and innovation is vital to retaining the competitive advantage in business. Companies need to find the right tools to leverage off data, based on their business objectives.

This is according to Farren Roper, head of products and markets at FNB, who used his own experience to give an example of how FNB used its data to gain the competitive edge. He says that, for one its products, the bank had to break down the levels of data to help it deliver the competitive advantage.

The three levels of data FNB used were raw data, data for voice, and apps and mobility.

Raw data

Roper says FNB used its free capacity to provide a more cost-effective offering. This had further implications because, with the bank's existing product offering, clients now performed more functions on the digital platform - which the bank further evolved by giving its clients free data - simply for being its clients.

Data for voice

SA's telecoms costs are very high in comparison with those of the developed world, Roper notes, and with this in mind, data innovation was used as a catalyst for voice innovation.

The question posed was how data could be used to introduce a voice innovation. The introduction of voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) proved to be the answer, resulting in voice technology, which gave customers a cost advantage and enabled free communication between FNB and its clients.

Apps and mobility

ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit and Awards

The ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit and Awards takes place on 28 and 29 February 2012, with a workshop on 1 March. For more information and to reserve your seat, click here.

The natural evolution from voice and data led to mobility, says Roper. Smartphone penetration created possibilities, and resulted in the growth of applications in the market, he says. “This led to the evolution of our app, which has proved to be very popular.”

In order to use data to gain a competitive edge, Roper says there should be a drive from various levels of the organisation. For example, there needs to be vision from the top, while IT must also have the skills and flexibility to be able to take new innovations to the market, he adds. The last factor that needs to be taken into account, he says, is that there must be entrepreneurial management within the organisation in order to find the right initiatives and business cases to further create competitive advantages.

Roper is a speaker at the ITWeb BI Summit, which takes place on 28 and 29 February, with a workshop on 1 March. The event will see local and international leaders addressing all areas related to business intelligence.

At the summit, Roper will give more practical examples of how data can be used to gain the competitive edge. He will look at the data market in SA, explain how to leverage technology in order to create value-added services, and how data can be used as a catalyst for future innovations.

For more information or to book your seat to this event, click here.

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