With the incredible growth in data becoming increasingly difficult to manage, IT leaders need to find ways to use it to provide insightful information. Hesham El Komy, Regional Vice President, Middle East, Africa and India (MEAI), Epicor Software, tells us how to avoid ‘analysis paralysis’ caused by data overload and apply analytics to data.
Can you explain why there has been such a tremendous growth in data and what this means for the average worker?
There are vast amounts of data being created, mined and managed every day – and, according to an executive summary by Cisco, global IP traffic will experience an almost threefold increase over the next five years. With broadband speeds set to double by 2021 and more data being shared than ever before, the amount of information that now sits at our fingertips is exploding.
Today, data is accumulated from a wide variety of sources, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage this growing wealth of information – which includes details related to financial transactions, inventory and production processes – let alone use it.
Digitalisation also means that workers now face a daily tsunami of emails. In 2018, around 124.5 billion business emails were sent and received worldwide each day – with the average office employee receiving over 121 pieces of digital correspondence daily. Projections show that by 2021, 320 billion emails will be sent everyday – an increase that will have a detrimental effect on the productivity and wellbeing of those receiving them.
What is the impact of this deluge of data?
There is no denying that data plays a key role in the everyday decisions made by organisations and their employees. However, the sheer volume of information available today can result in data blindness and confusion, rather than clarity, when making all-important business choices – leading to ‘analysis paralysis’.
Recent research indicates that the data deluge workers experience on a daily basis is becoming overwhelming. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of employees claim they’re dealing with more and more data, while almost two-thirds (62%) said they are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emails they receive. Over a third (35%) went on to confess they feel stressed every day, due to information overload.
This is a challenge for workers in every area of the business – with over two-thirds (62%) of CEOs, 44 % of IT workers, 63% of operations staff and 70% of finance professionals agreeing that information overload impacts them on a daily basis. With data paralysis affecting staff members at every level of the organisation, the risks this poses cannot be ignored.
Information overload not only puts workers under pressure, it can also have a damaging impact on their ability to make accurate business decisions – 60% claim that the amount of data and information they receive daily can sometimes make it hard to make the right choices.
Can you explain how better visibility results in more accurate decision making?
With decision-making so pivotal to driving business growth, information overload represents a worrying development. Making the wrong decision can have serious negative implications for the bottom line, especially when it comes to adapting an export strategy or initiating a new business plan without appropriately reviewing if there is any potential impact on profit margins.
Achieving full visibility of operations across the business is key for maximising the enterprise’s decision-making capabilities. This includes having on-demand access to the right information, at the right time. However, according to KPMG’s 2016 Global Manufacturing Outlook report, 43% of senior executives admit they had either limited or no visibility at all into their supply chain – a concerning figure.
While no one person can have direct visibility of everything that is going on in a company, business intelligence technologies and analytic software – including enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and manufacturing execution software (MES) – should be used to provide these insights. These technologies work by collecting, distilling, interpreting, editing and presenting meaningful data in a timely manner, and highlighting issues and areas of concern in a way that is clear and actionable.
How can analytics be applied to data and what are the benefits of this?
Cutting through the everyday influx of data is an ongoing business need – and systems that can help make decision-makers choose quickly and wisely are more crucial than ever before. To eliminate analysis paralysis, businesses need to access contextualised data and present this in a format – in a dashboard, or as graphics or alerts – that users find easy to work with. To simplify this process, all data needs to be stored in a centralised system that can be integrated with other devices – so that information can be accessed across the entire business, by multiple parties.
Solutions like ERP and MES make it possible to enable the integration of data across the entire product lifecycle – from design, through to engineering, manufacturing, delivery and customer service. This gives all stakeholders – from C-level executives to those working on the manufacturing floor – access to real-time and actionable, information and insights. Having a filtered view of all this detail will enable decisions to be based on relevant, accurate and reliable data.
There is no room for uncertainty in business when paving the way for future growth. By applying analytics to data, decision-makers can swiftly access insights that will enable them to make the right choices to improve operations across an entire business – including customer service and demand planning – and, ultimately, profits.