A Focused Approach to Data Analytics is the Way Forward

Companies should base their decisions on quality data and analytics.
Published: Thu 28 Aug 2014

The growth in connected devices has resulted in a significant increase in real-time data. However, data without analytics means precious little. This is according to Frank Rizzo, data and analytics leader for KPMG South Africa, who discusses the importance of data and data analytics.

The right data to make the right decisions

He explains that technology trends such as cloud computing, Big Data, mobility, and social networking are all compounding the issue. While the volume of data is growing considerably and the potential is mind-boggling, it is important for a business to decide what data is important and how it will be used to enhance business processes.

Rizzo believes that the practical elements around the decision-making process often revolve around whether the decision-maker has the right data to make the right decisions. Often, these decision-makers end up focusing on the quantity of data instead of working out whether the information they have is sufficient enough to make decisions.

“The three Vs of data examine its volume, variety, and velocity. At KPMG, we also talk about two additional Vs; the veracity (or integrity) of data, and the value that it provides the business. All these elements need to be used in conjunction to help decision-makers respond to a specific business problem they need to solve,” explains Rizzo.

Check the quality of the data

Another important element to consider is the quality of the data. Rizzo says that in the past several months there has been a marked increase in public and private sector organisations putting tenders out for specialists in data quality.

He says, “It seems that we are all trying to solve the world’s problems with data and not many are checking the quality of the sources. Adding to this challenge is the amount of real-time data being generated. So the variety and volume of data have increased massively.”

Companies are starting to realise the necessity of analytics but quality data needs to be there first. For utilities, the key to modernizing network management systems to accommodate these conditions lies in big data, not only in collecting the vast amount of information that next generation smart grids will provide them, but also in quickly converting this into valuable network insight., explains Mike Ballard, Senior Director for Utilities Strategy at Oracle EMEA. [Engerati-Big Data for Big Change]

“It is clear that there is a gap in the market to draw out insights from the tools that companies are using. This could very well boil down to a resources issue. The reality is that you need people who understand mathematics, science, statistics, technology and business. Local universities have started offering modules on data science but we are not quite there yet.”

He says that these data scientists are often referred to as ‘unicorns’ in the field because they do not exist. However, just as business and technology have merged in recent years, so too will the science of data combine into the workplace.

“There will be significant demand for skilled people in these areas. Data proliferation will increase exponentially and so you need the specialists who are able to filter it and extract value from it,” concludes Rizzo.

Given the imminent roll out of next generation grids, Ballard recommends that the skills gap be closed quickly. He adds, “Organizations that can adapt their workforce to manage the transition effectively will be the first to benefit from smart energy networks.”