Data ahoy! - TechCentral

Data ahoy!

Atvance Intellect regional sales manager Alan Browning

There is a gaping chasm where data skills should lie. A gap so wide that few organisations know how to fill it, much less how to tackle it. IBM’s The Quant Crunch report found that not only would data science be a fundamental part of around 28% of digital jobs by the end of 2020, but that there was a staggering lack of talent.

In the data science and analytics market, the limited supply of talent is sitting on the cusp of bringing all the potential wrapped up in big data to a grinding, empty halt.

To continue the sailor analogy, that lighthouse isn’t warning of land, it’s the klaxon from industry warning that now is the time to pay attention to the value of data and invest into skills development.

“Big data isn’t going to slow down its growth; if anything, it will continue to form the building blocks of business and remain a critical tool for success,” says Alan Browning, regional sales manager at Atvance Intellect.

“Organisations are predicting that their data will increase five-fold by 2025 and yet many are still taking the ostrich approach to data investment and skills development. They still don’t recognise how data genuinely is the next big thing.”


There are more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated every day. Cloud, mobile, artificial intelligence, Internet of things, machine data and compute are pouring information down channels and funnels and filling the virtual storage realms with enough data to transform the organisation. The questions that should be on every boardroom agenda are: How can we monetise this data? How can this data be used to impact positively on the business? And where are the skills we need to unpack this data to benefit our strategy and growth? Unfortunately, the answers are not what the enterprise wants to hear.

“The conversations that organisations are having today are exactly the same as the conversations that they were having 22 years ago,” says Browning. “They all wanted to know their customer, and they all wanted insights into how customers behaved and what customers wanted in order to drive growth. Today, companies are still not well placed to have the correct data that points to who their customers really are and what keeps them as customers. They have all these data points that can be used for insights and yet they are unable to make business decisions based on this data.”

The problem goes beyond not having paid attention to data and not having the systems in place that can leverage the data. The reality is that data is complex. It’s not easy to dig into the lakes of data and determine what information is of value and what is rot. Data has exploded so quickly that the volumes are too complex to manage.

“Companies are making business decisions based on 20% of their data – at least 80% of it is dark – so they’re building a five-year strategy based on 20% of their information,” adds Browning. “This is further complicated by the fact that many organisations are still battling with a siloed approach to how they run their IT infrastructure. Business units don’t want to share their data because it came from their budgets, their siloes. This immediately impacts on the scope and value of the data.”

Another aspect that must be considered is the need to interpret the data in real time. While this is not necessarily something that every organisation can dip into with immediate effect, it is the golden goose when it comes to decision making and business impact. But even with the best technology and the most advanced systems, there’s little hope of valuable real-time data unless organisations abandon the silo and focus on the skills.

“Skills development is critical right now,” says Browning. “Organisations must invest into future skills development and on closing the gap between business need and actual talent. From a South African perspective, this means that we have to put our students and education at the forefront of the agenda because in subjects like maths, we’re failing our future.”

Data is the new oil. It can be tapped, and it can be transformative. It is not too late for organisations to fully capture the potential of their data and transform how they engage with market and customer. But — and this is the big but — they do need to widen their view when it comes to skills development and recognise the impact that data can have on their business before it can actually deliver on its promised value. Otherwise it is nothing more than pools of information lying wasted on the virtual ground.

About Atvance Intellect
Atvance Intellect helps organisations attract new customers, optimise processes, and drive sustainability, profit and growth by assisting them to leverage their intellectual capital. Bringing together all the secure data sources that a company has at its disposal, we apply data to every question, decision and action, transforming it first into information, and then into actionable intelligence to maximise business objectives and goals.

Our deep understanding of the data-driven technology landscape inspires us to find new and innovative ways of unlocking value, helping you better understand your business landscape and achieve your objectives. We take all your data points and sources and turn them into assets that can translate into growing a successful business.

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