Big data highlights need for data management education, skills

By Gary Allemann, Managing Director, Master Data Management

Johannesburg, 27 Aug 2014
Read time 4min 50sec
Gary Allemann, Managing Director, Master Data Management
Gary Allemann, Managing Director, Master Data Management

Big data is currently one of the most talked-about megatrends affecting the business world, along with cloud computing, customer centricity and data-centric legislation, such as the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act.

Not only have these trends created a resurging interest in data, they have also underscored the requirement for strong data management skills - and this has highlighted a definite skills gap. While training is available on specific products and toolsets, there is a fundamental shortage of staff with the generic skills required to effectively manage data and incorporate business intelligence (BI) and analytics into the organisation. Online data management education and certification from is one option available to corporates to address the skills shortage.

The challenge with big data is that technology alone is not the 'silver bullet' for organisations to leverage the insights it can deliver. The same can be said for the cloud, legislative requirements, "single view of the customer" and the myriad other data-related challenges facing organisations today.

Data management lies at the heart of successfully tackling these issues, across a number of different competencies, including master data management (MDM), data governance, data quality, business intelligence, data integration and more. However, the skill sets required to perform these tasks are in short supply. This means that should organisations attempt to hire in the required skills, they are chasing the same small pool of individuals as every other business. Scarce skills are thus far more expensive and difficult to obtain, with the result that data management becomes costly.

Compounding this challenge is the fact that the majority of available training is focused on specific tool sets and not generic data management, BI and analytics skills. These niche 'skilled' employees often cannot define the business problem, understand what a BI project should look like, design an appropriate architecture, deploy it, and so on. This is akin to teaching someone to use word processing software before teaching them how to read and write. They may be able to use the tools, but are unable to derive value because they do not understand the underlying business problems or issues at stake, nor how to resolve them.

The new programmes offered by Master Data Management, in partnership with specialist data management educator and global online learning expert,, offer a solution to the skills shortage challenge.

"Skills development is more than just a social responsibility, it is critical for companies to get value from technology," says Gary Allemann. "The material forms the foundation of a sound corporate education programme for all data management staff.

Over 40 courses cover a variety of areas, including BI and Analytics, MDM, data quality, data integration and data governance. These practical courses leverage the power of e-learning to provide value for staff at any level, from entry-level staff looking for a basic foundation in information management, to part time data stewards, to old professionals looking to enhance their skills with expert tips and tricks.

E-learning provides access to the knowledge and experience of a range of specialists at an affordable cost and a time and place that is convenient for participants. The focus is to help participants obtain skills that can be practically applied in real-world scenarios, and knowledge of the purpose and benefits of information management.

Courses are supplemented with optional exams, allowing participants to qualify for the internationally recognised Certified Information Management Professional (CIMP) accreditation in the IM discipline of choice.

Yvette Janse van Rensburg, CIMP, selected the courses, as she felt that a formal education was necessary in order to master the complexities of master data management. "I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the training material as well as the tutors themselves. All were highly respected and experienced subject matter experts in their field of knowledge," says Janse van Rensburg, who selected the courses, as master data management is becoming a focus at her workplace. "Understanding master data management is difficult. There is so much information out there, that it becomes quite confusing for the individual to master this broad subject without formal training."

Janse van Rensburg recently completed her fifth exam, to become South Africa's first CIMP in master data management. "The courses are not easy. You will have to do some studying, but for the focused learner they are doable. I successfully completed five modules in the Master Data Management track and therefore earned my MDM Certified Information Management Professional (CIMP) accreditation. Other members of our team are close behind.

"I feel much more equipped to work on MDM projects and to avoid being part of the statistics of the many failed MDM projects out there. I can definitely recommend these courses for anyone who is serious about gaining specialised MDM knowledge," concludes Janse van Rensburg.

E-learning that focuses on delivering real skills and worthwhile investment into education offers a cost-effective way for organisations in South Africa to develop the necessary data management skills as part of their corporate education scheme and budget. By so doing, enterprises are empowered to leverage the business benefits of improved data insight, including traditional business analytics as well as big data and enhanced data management.

Request a quote by calling +27 11 485 4856 or visit

Master Data Management

Master Data Management (MDM) combines education, consulting and technologies to provide complete data management solutions with a focus on big data, data governance and compliance, data quality and master data management. MDM leverages the international expertise of its vendors, including Harte Hanks Trillium Software, Collibra, Datameer and to enhance its 10 years of local experience. MDM's solutions have assisted clients in financial services, government, mining and telecommunications.

Editorial contacts
Evolution PR Lesley Rencontre (011) 462 0679
Master Data Management Gary Allemann (011) 485 4856
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