By their very nature, many businesses operating in the digital era are constantly inundated with massive data sources.

With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), a constant and growing focus on digital transformation, and a globalised economy where information is shared in an instant, organisations are forced to implement effective and efficient solutions to manage this valuable data.

Traditionally, legacy systems would require manual management of data. A labour-intensive process of extracting, collating and reading information was the norm. This process is extremely time consuming, requiring in-depth attention to prioritise and determine opportunities, or compile a reliable report.

Utilising these outdated practices leads to questionable data integrity and accuracy, while the management of the information becomes an analytical nightmare.

From the executive to finance, human resources, IT, sales, service and support, quality improvement, supply chain, and every other business function, every department consumes, manages and relies on the business’ data. With constantly accumulating, massive data sets, the modern business requires in-depth analysis abilities to make truly effective business and financial decisions.

According to South Africa Qlik master reseller’s executive director, Jane Thomson, every business already has the information at hand to drive efficiency, productivity and profitability. This data weaves an intricate story about the business’ operations, its unique opportunities and the threats it must overcome. What’s often missing is the ability to narrate the story, in realtime.

“The need is not for information – that is already available, in oversupply. The need is now for effective data management and analytics,” says Thomson. “Business intelligence (BI) is optimised when an organisation’s collective human intelligence is harnessed and amplified with machine intelligence.

“The more that people use analytics, the more agile and data-driven the business can become. The key is to connect people with data and ideas, in a way that makes sense to them, to take advantage of new possibilities.”

In sales, for example, strategic decisions can only be made with access to analytics based on previous performance. How are deals won, what is the common factor that leads to success, how does this manifest into revenue?

“To achieve this level of reporting, full visibility of the total lifecycle of the transaction is required,” Thomson says.

Finance departments across the globe are under constant pressure to ensure they deliver accurate, timeous reports, boardpacks and financial trend analyses to enable the organisation to make informed financial decisions.

The speed at which the world changes demands that finance deliver quickly. The information available today may lead to a different strategy than that which is available in a month, a week or a day’s time.

“Tools must be agile, intuitive and flexible, ensuring that decisions can made based on real-time data, empowering the business to manage proactively.”

The benefits of effective data analysis include vastly improved productivity, efficiency and the ability to make sound decisions. With in-depth, up to the minute insights into the financial standing, service levels and performance throughout the business, cost savings, operations and productivity are bolstered.

“The key is to implement an analytics solution that bridges the gap between traditional BI solutions and inadequate spreadsheet applications,” says Thomson. “With self-service analysis, app-driven models work with existing BI solutions.

“This offers an immersive mobile and social, collaborative experience, and ensures data governance is deployed in days or weeks – rather than months. The purpose? To gain meaning out of information from varied sources, exploring the hidden relationships within data that lead to insights and ignite good ideas.”