the life blood of every business – The Mast Online

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[By Conrad Simatimbe]

Last week, we shared an article highlighting how an organisation can get the most out of their ICT teams. We concluded that for an organisation to reap good results out of their technology investments, the ICT strategic plan must be properly aligned with the Corporate Strategic Plan. There is need to involve ICT teams at all levels of the business leadership including board levels. We emphasised the need to have an adequately trained ICT team in terms of academic degrees and professional and vendor specific certifications. Furthermore, both the organisation and employee must be members of the Information and Communications Technology Association of Zambia (ICTAZ) or the Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) in line with the provisions of the law. Please note that there is no harm in belonging to both legal bodies.

The second biggest asset of any business after human resource is data. Arguably, this is the fact that most businesses have struggled to accept over the years. Firstly, we all have to agree that human resource plays a critical role in the existence of any business. It is a fact that there is no business that can stand without human resource. In the same vein, there is no business that can stand without data. Data is the life blood of any business entity. Starting from the first day of business conceptualisation, data is being created, compiled, collected, stored and distributed. Suffice to state that data is present in all the organisation’s processes, from risk or regulatory compliance to day-to-day routine operations of the business.

The devastating effects of a pandemic like COVID-19 has taught us that we need a systematic, cross-organisational approach to manage data, not merely to cope with the present crisis but to prepare for the future eventualities. The COVID-19 pandemic has successfully paralysed many businesses across the continents especially those that do not have a data management strategy in place. Businesses that are not data-centric have found it tough to adapt in the new normal following the devastating pandemic that has brought about an unprecedented risky business environment, where organisations must rapidly make decisions that are grounded on trusted, timely and accurate data.

Many organisations have not prioritised data governance as they still think it is a peripheral need to the business. I hereby argue and emphasise that data governance is core to any progressive business entity. Having a robust data management plan can help a business streamline operation and bring about efficiency to the business and potentially have a competitive advantage in the sector. Businesses must endeavor to be data-driven at all times. This will help them in the strategic process of leveraging insights from data to identify new business opportunities, better serve customers, grow sales, improve operations and more. It allows organisations to use empirical evidence-based data to make decisions and plan carefully to pursue business objectives.

It is the time to bridge the gap between business and ICT strategies to properly manage data ecosystem. Businesses must properly identify and define data across sources, standardise business and data management rules and data protection policies through exhaustive strategies. What business houses ought to realise is that the time to exist in silos is long gone. In this century and the next requires data integration, data sharing and uncompromised systems cohesion. This calls for all businesses to properly identify, cleanse, standardise, and curate data for their internal use and other interested users. There is no room for the existence of duplicate, erroneous, inaccurate and incomplete data.

As we wind up the year, I would like to encourage business houses to seriously consider investing in data driven business practices. Bring the business data ecosystem to the center of your business operations and have empirical evidence-based business practices. This is a sure way that your business will survive competition, going forward.

Merry Christmas!

The author is a seasoned computer communications engineer with research interests in science and technology. He holds a Master of Business Administration from CBU and a Master of Engineering in Computer Communications from UNZA, among others. Send comment to:

syakalima@gmail.com, Mobile: +260 966 520000.



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