Managing data 'a strategic issue'
With increasing volumes and complexity of data, effective data management has become an issue that extends beyond IT into business, says Gary Alleman, MD of Master Data Management.
Alleman says: "Master data in its own right has no value - you might have 10 million valid customer records, but only a proportion of these may have a value for the business. Companies need to quantify the impact and business value of the data in order to prioritise it and manage it more effectively."
Effective management of large volumes of existing and new data can be a challenge, Alleman says. "For example, when taking on a new customer segment involving hundreds of thousands or even millions of customer records, operations staff can get overwhelmed. You need to separate and prioritise those with the biggest impact."
To do so, companies need to filter their data and focus on where the tactical 'quick wins' are, in terms of the usefulness of the data for achieving company goals, he says. Instead of trying to cope with vast volumes of data, companies need to improve the usefulness of records that have real business value, he says.
"The answer is to look at it from a strategic perspective - recognise that data just sitting in a CRM or ERP system won't help," he says.
Few local companies are achieving this yet. In the longer term, as big data becomes a growing challenge, companies will need to start looking to appoint or upskill data management professionals tasked with data governance and management.
Alleman says this role will bridge the gap between IT and business. "Traditionally, IT has managed data, but for effective data management, there must be an understanding of data management as well as an understanding of the value of data in business."
Alleman says data management is a relatively new discipline, and therefore, the necessary skills are in short supply in SA. However, some industries, such as financial services, are already managing their data effectively in order to meet compliance and risk mitigation needs.
In the general consumer market, new legislation is also driving a need for more effective data management, Alleman says. To improve data management, business does not necessarily need to make a technology investment; it may need simply to make more strategic decisions about the filtering and application of its data.
"Business must recognise that data management bridges a gap and must be business led. They will be wasting time and money if they don't," says Alleman.
Gary Alleman will discuss Governance Beyond Master Data at the ITWeb BI Summit, from 26 to 28 February 2013, at The Forum in Bryanston. For more information about this event, click here.