How is the health of your data?

There’s only one thing worse than a know-it-all, and that’s a know-nothing. While the first type of annoyance can be frustrating, the second can be catastrophic – especially if your organisation relies on data to create new business opportunities.

And, even if you don’t recognise the fact yet, your business already relies on information. The amount of data the world produces increases every two years, according to researcher IDC. Such an astonishing level of growth sounds incredible.

But further visual context is provided by IDC, who report that the digital universe grew by 62% to almost 800,000 petabytes in 2010. A petabyte is a million gigabytes, or a stack of DVDs reaching from the earth to the moon and back.

Your business is probably creating its own equivalent DVD stack as we speak. From structured information stored in databases held in stovepipes, to unstructured data spread across emails, social media and PDFs, every organisation is struggling with the same problem – big data.

For most organisations, the amount of information being created is spiralling out of control. Poor data control results in ill-informed decision-making, where executives make judgments with no real understanding of an organisation’s health.

The only answer is to take a strong grip on analytics and to implement business intelligence (BI) software, a real-time technique that will help your organisation analyse its knowledge base and provide reports that help boost executive performance.

Integrating BI, through rigorous internal processes, will allow your key people to make timely decisions. Examples of successful BI are not just confined to the private sector and also include some leading edge public bodies, such as Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

The specialist NHS body’s data is currently held in multiple systems and displayed using Excel spreadsheets. To provide real-time information, and to produce customised reports on performance, the Trust has spent £4.3m on a BI and data warehousing platform.

The resulting Integrated Information Centre may seem like a large investment at a time of public sector cuts; however it is key to helping the Trust increase financial control and improve decision-making processes for citizens.

The long-term payback, therefore, is clear. With an effective BI solution in place, organisations like Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust can finally control their data and harness its true potential.

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Dean Dickinson is Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions, formerly COA Solutions. Dean has been in the finance software business since 1990. He was part of the senior management team at QSP/Arelon prior to the acquisition by COA Solutions at which time he became Deputy Managing Director for the business as a whole. Since the acquisition of COA Solutions by Advanced Computer Software Group in February 2010, Dean has become Managing Director for Advanced Business Solutions. He is a specialist in consultancy and has a strong knowledge of business processes within a high volume/high value environment.