By Kate Mollett
South African businesses are increasingly leveraging data to deliver a better customer experience and differentiate their offerings from competitors. For example, one local bank lets a person open an account simply by taking a selfie. The mining sector is another where the push towards connected devices is improving productivity and safety through the adoption of automated processes. With data as a common theme, this has resulted in the move towards the hyper-availability of data that will be fundamental to helping achieve a better level of customer-centricity.
Inevitably, decision-makers need to think beyond backups and recovery. Instead, the digital world requires a more intelligent data management approach that underpins its importance to the success of a business. Customers expect intuitive, super-fast transactions driven by data. Whether it is online banking or shopping, insurance claims processing or medical aid queries, services must be readily available and responsive to more exacting client demands.
The challenge this puts before the organisation is one where data must be managed and analysed concurrently with making it available to customers irrespective the device they use or where they access it from. As data grows in importance, enterprises need to re-evaluate whether their existing systems and processes are sufficient to deal with a hyper-availability environment.
Mining for data
With mining being one of the most influential sectors in the South African economy, it is no wonder that the sheer amount of data being generated is resulting in a desire for better management. As part of this, mines have become more responsive to the Internet of Things (IoT) and employing connected devices to more accurately capture information. Previous manual-based processes have given way to embedded devices that extract real-time data from equipment to not only help guide maintenance schedules but also offer insight into their efficiencies.
According to an international report, machine learning and improved statistical techniques mean previously unseen patterns from this data can be made visible and used to improve productivity in, for example, the flow of mined materials from initial extraction to processing and final transportation. Additionally, mines can use sensors to detect dangerous methane levels and rock movement to improve workplace safety.
Global research firm Markets & Markets estimates the connected mining market size is expected to grow from $3.84 billion in 2015 to just under $10 billion by 2020. And as mining houses start to better understand the potential that this data can offer even beyond the norm, the better the likelihood that they will embrace a hyper-availability mindset to ensure its intelligent management and analysis.
Banking on change
Furthermore, financial institutions (especially banks) are well-positioned to capitalise on this era of hyper-availability. Even though South Africa is well-known for its mobile banking app innovations, being able to better scrutinise customer data and how it fits into the national context empower banks to create a more unique environment.
This is especially the case as they try to reach the large unbanked population in the country. Forming part of the intelligent data management required is being able to better understand the hyper-sprawl of data if sense is to be made from it. Not only is there so much more data available to banks and other companies, but there is much more data everywhere. Apps, the cloud, legacy systems, and forgotten back-end databases all contain pieces of the larger puzzle to better analyse and understand customer requirements.
All told, hyper-availability and its associated mindset change will bring about a shift in the local market when it comes to intelligent data management. Organisations need to embrace this now and take the next step to unlock the value hidden in their data.
Kate Mollett is regional manager for Africa South at Veeam