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Building Organisational Wealth With Accurate Data For Enhanced Decision-Making

In order to be relevant, the information extracted from data must be trustworthy, provide appropriate insights and be available anywhere and at any time.

Craig Johnston

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data-analysis

We live in a highly digitised world, where we are connected through multiple networks and devices, generating masses of data. To build a responsive business, SME’s must turn these insights gained from data resources into meaningful information that can contribute significantly to building organisational wealth.

To capitalise on this potential pool of facts, a business first needs to understand the difference between data and information. Data is generated almost non-stop, and can be  considered a raw-material of sorts. By analysing and processing data, useful information can be derived to action decision-making based on facts and not assumptions. Peter Drucker, explains that “information is data endowed with relevance and purpose”. So, by defining the “what” (relevance) and the “why” (purpose) of the data, you will be able to optimise its inherent value. In order to be relevant, the information extracted from data must be trustworthy, provide appropriate insights and be available anywhere and at any time.

Related: Lead The Charge By Building Your Business Momentum

Trustworthy data

Insights from data is as much about quality as it is about quantity. Gathering data from multiple sources, including both structured and unstructured data, must be consolidated without jeparodising the integrity of the data. It must be complete, consistent and accurate.

This data needs to then be processed and analysed to identify key bits of information which is immediately accessible to employees to use for enhanced decision-making. An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system such as SAP Business One, with embedded and predictive analytics, brings information from multiple databases into a central reporting platform. This allows employees to access information and insights in real-time which contributes to speedy, factual decision-making.

Relevant insights

Information must have integrity and be readily available providing:

  • A unified and reliable infrastructure offering employees and partners access and insight
  • Employees real-time, direct access to key performance metrics
  • A means of presenting information intuitively, leading to deeper insight
  • A platform for predictive analytics. 

Timely delivery

To stay ahead of your competitors, decisions need to be made quickly in order to respond to rapid environmental changes and shifting market trends. Having real-time visibility into financial and operational capacity, available resources, inventory, sales figures and key performance areas is crucial. An ERP system with mobile capabilities, such as SAP Business One, is a must-have tool for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to effectively and accurately consolidate and generate valuable information on-the-go.

Benefitting from data

Informed decision-making optimises operational adeptness, allowing for greater agility in response to market forces and continuous innovations that are symptoms of a rapidly changing business environment. It forces a more customer-focused approach as information about your clients are shared between departments. Data impacts the profitability of an organisation as management needs to accurately track revenues, costs, and cash flow to asses the financial position and take quick corrective action based on data output.

Related: Can Your Marketing Team Speak Data?

The take-away

According to an article published by Harvard Business Review, there is clearly still a lot that needs to be done in terms of how businesses use available data effectively.  Less than half of most organisations’ structured data is actively used in making decisions and less than 1% of its unstructured data is analysed or used at all. Research also shows that organisations that tap into these valuable sources of information consistently show higher levels of innovation, efficiency and the ability to predict outcomes and act on those predictions.

The right ERP solution enables SMEs to harness the untapped information locked within its data. Converting this raw data into meaningful and actionable information has a positive impact on the daily running of a company, contributing significantly to increasing its organisational wealth.

Craig Johnston, Marketing Manager at Bluekey Seidor, has been in the marketing industry for almost a decade. With vast experience in marketing strategy and campaign execution, Craig has developed a solid foundation in both traditional and digital marketing. As an expert his field, Craig has successfully made Bluekey Seidor one of the fastest growing SAP Business One Partners in Africa.

Technology

GDPR Is Coming – And SA Firms Are Not Ready

SA SMEs face fines of up to R300m for poor customer data management processes under new EU law.

Tracy Bolton

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data protection

On 25 May this year, a new piece of legislation comes into effect in Europe that could have severe consequences for non-compliant South African businesses. The General Data Protection Regulation – or GDPR for short – is a regulation under European Union law that aims to give control over personal data back to EU citizens.

The regulation applies to any organisation that collects or processes data from EU citizens, even when that citizen or organisation is based outside the EU. The European Commission defines personal data as “any information relating to an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life”. This includes names, home addresses, photos, email addresses, bank details, social media posts, medical information, or even a computer’s IP address.

The fines for non-compliance are severe and could spell the end of a business practically overnight: the maximum fine is as much as €20-million, or nearly R300-million. What’s more, the regulation is far-reaching: any company with an EU citizen among its workforce, or a customer based in the EU, or even if only one of the subscribers to a company newsletter is based in the EU, that company can be held liable under GDPR. Few if any mid-sized South African firms could afford such a steep sanction, and legacy issues compound problems around compliance, increasing their risk and potential liability.

Related: Are You Protecting Your Customer’s Data?

In response, local firms are taking unprecedented steps to ensure they and their customers remain within the confines of the new regulation, especially considering the volume of trade and collaboration between African countries and their European counterparts.

Legacy processes add complexity to compliance

Most mid-sized firms have deliberately or inadvertently built up internal siloes related to how customer, business and other operational data is stored. For example, in a typical retailer’s marketing department, the data storage systems that processes newsletter subscriptions via email may be entirely removed from and non-integrated to the WhatsApp number where much of the customer communication takes place.

This means a customer that unsubscribes to a newsletter via WhatsApp may still receive the newsletter until such a time as the retailer can integrate the two sets of data.

When GDPR comes into effect, companies will not only stand liable for fines should the above scenario play out, but they need to be able to provide customers with complete clarity on how their data is stored and managed at any point in time. Any costs incurred in the process of showing how customer data is stored is also for the company’s own account, which adds not only complexity to standard business processes but also potentially additional costs.

Considering the prevailing trust deficit between consumers and brands, the potential of being exposed for treating confidential customer data poorly is immense. Once trust is breached, affected customers are unlikely to engage with the brand again, and will leave a searchable and public trail of comments on social media for all to see. The recent case of Facebook – which now faces a fine of as much as $2-trillion – has brought this to the forefront of consumer consciousness, but other examples of poor customer data management abound. Closer to home, the leaking of 31 million records at the Master Deeds Office revealed the ID numbers, addresses and income estimates of millions of South Africa citizens.

On the basis of consent

For South African businesses, however, new technology tools could play an invaluable role in mitigating risks associated with GDPR and its South African counterpart, POPI. A recent investment by SAP into Consent is simplifying the business processes associates with creating trusted digital experiences within the limitations of GDPR and POPI compliance.

Part of the SAP Hybris suite of applications, Consent enables SMEs to centrally manage customer preferences and consent settings throughout their full lifecycle, while putting them in control of their own data. Consent enables companies to be transparent, gain loyal customers and protect their business from costly fines as well as potentially disruptive business processes related to proving to customers how their data is being stored and managed.

In line with modern business demands, Consent is also provided in the cloud, making it quick to implement and easy to prove ROI. Every time a policy changes, customers can receive an automated notification that they actively accept, with a record of such forms of consent stored centrally to allow SMEs to quickly and accurately prove responsible customer data management.

Whether you run an online retailer with customers around the world, or a news website where a European citizen may occasionally offer a comment on an article, GDPR holds inherent risks to your business. But with the correct technology tool, a potential R300m liability can be transformed into a competitive business advantage that furthers the cause of trusted and trustworthy digital customer experiences.

Related: Five Tips for Effective Marketing that Complies with the POPI Act

Here are five immediate steps South African companies can take to limit their GDPR risk:

  1. Educate staff: Make sure everyone in your company understands what GDPR and POPI means and what is recognised as personal information.
  2. Understand the current state: Ensure you understand what data is being stored – and where it is stored.
  3. Inspect the data: Get to grips with exactly what personal information is being stored where. Categorise data (for example names, email address, ID numbers) and delete data that is not needed.
  4. Implement processes: Put in processes and systems to handle all data, including acquiring, accessing, maintaining and disposing of information.
  5. Improve reporting: Regular audits will be needed to ensure the processes are being followed, and to know at all times where data is being stored, who has access to it, and how a potential breach of data will be handled.

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Technology

The Role Of Trust Now And In The Future

How will technology, such as blockchain, impact contract and business?

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw

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contract

The basis of our entire legal system has been that people who contract with one another do so inherently based on the existence of trust.

It is true that in order to conclude a legally binding contract, certain requirements must be met:

  1. Consensus between the parties;
  2. Intention – offer and acceptance;
  3. The parties must have the legal capacity to contract;
  4. Certainty in the contract;
  5. Formalities must be met;
  6. Lawfulness; and
  7. Possibility of performance.

Underpinning all of the above is the aspect of trust. The fact that we have, in practice, seen contracts, that comply with all the requirements, being breached is testimony that without trust, there are no prospects of full uninterrupted performance.

Some underlying theory of the causes of breakdown in trust

Over the years, many theories have debated why exactly trust lacks even when it seems that trust is resent. Many experts including Dr. Demartini, has stated that it is all based on shared values or in the case of trust never being present in the first place or where it lacks, the lack of shared values. In essence, where people consider the same things as important, they will collaborate in a mutually acceptable manner to achieve the joint contracted and desired outcome, whether it be in the employment space, ownership or between customer and supplier or stakeholders.

Related: What Is The Legal Impact Of Acknowledgements?

How does technology build or reward trust

Be that as it may, maybe these notions and the recipe for failure or achievement is something of the past. With the introduction of blockchain and similar technology, many experts are of the view that trust would become superfluous. Technology such as blockchain creates an irrefutable, uneditable record and therefore provides that trust whether present or not can no longer adversely affect the performance of agreements.

So, the human question remains – will this make us more or less ethical in our behaviour? Will this make our relationships less or more value driven?

The supporters of token-based incentive schemes, would say that one of the inherent aspects of this technology and blockchain is that it is all reputation based and that users are motivated by points-based incentives. Incentives and point scoring based on good behaviour and reputation. Taking the concept of reputation capital to another level.

In my view, technology could be an enabler rather than another reason or diagnosis for the breakdown in trust and therefore, in contract. Legal practitioners and businesses should, in my view, closely monitor the developments in this space and embrace it as it becomes more developed, familiar, regulated and accessible.

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Company Posts

Keep Your Information Moving At The Speed Of Your Business

Devices that will address critical document imaging challenges and help optimise workflow, enhance document security, increase productivity and improve your bottom line.

Brother

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As document workload expands, so does the need for devices that can effectively and reliably keep pace. Devices that will address critical document imaging challenges and help optimise workflow, enhance document security, increase productivity and improve your bottom line.

Brother means business, with an eye to your bottom line

Mid- to large-sized workgroups with demanding print volumes need durable, reliable, and secure business-ready devices that provide exceptional output while being economical to own and operate. Brother Business Series models have been designed from the inside out to address your business needs while delivering the professional results you expect.

Secure your documents and devices

Keep your documents and data secure by restricting access, establishing security protocols and applying best practices to records management. Plus help address industry specific compliance and privacy requirements. The Brother Business Series is equipped with advanced features that deliver enterprise-level security. Several models include an integrated NFC card reader that provides walk-up authorisation to release print jobs and access other machine functions using a compatible NFC card.

Create efficiency

Optimise your resources and increase overall efficiency by placing the right mix of document output and capture technology where people are located to improve workgroup productivity. Flexible connectivity options such as wireless, Gigabit Ethernet networking, front USB host for walk-up printing and scanning, plus third party card reader support allow your workgroup to interact effectively with their document management.

Related: Embracing Technology For Business

Advanced paper handling

Paper handling is extremely versatile with the Business Series. Thicker or odd-sized paper can be accommodated in the multi-purpose trays. As printing requirements grow, these devices can grow in unison with expandable paper handling options. An optional tower tray gives up to 2,080 sheets for high volume print jobs, while optional paper trays can hold a maximum of either 250 or 500 sheets each.

Keep your company running smoothly

Simple customisation capabilities and user-friendly technology helps to simplify workflows. Simultaneous printing and scanning reduces workgroup wait times. Robust scanning features all you to scan multi-page documents, create searchable and editable Microsoft Office documents including Word, Excel and Powerpoint, plus scan to a wide variety of destinations.

Manage a mobile workforce

The Brother Business Series is readily compatible with most mobile devices to easily support a mobile/virtual workforce. Users will appreciate the ease and convenience of printing from or scanning to their smartphones or tablets. Plus, print from and scan to popular business cloud services directly from the touchscreen including: Evernote; Dropbox; Google Drive and more.

Significantly reduce Total cost of ownership (TCO)

The Brother Business Series delivers impressive value for high-volume users. State-of-the-art toner technology results in unparallelled print quality while delivering high-yields and low total cost of ownership. Brother genuine ultra-high yield replacement toner cartridges provide low cost printing, while automatic two-sided printing and copying takes cost savings even further by maximising paper use.

Meeting your business challenges

Your business depends on its document imaging devices to deliver top quality prints every time. The Brother Business Series works side-by-side with you to meet your essential daily document imaging needs while ensuring the highest level of professional output.

The Brother Business Series features a full complement of mono and colour printers and multi-function centres that are equipped with enterprise security features, state-of-the-art user interfaces, robust paper handling, and in-demand business functionality including scanning directly to email, searchable pdf formats and to editable Microsoft Office documents. These devices deliver fast printing, best-in-class scanning speeds and include access to popular business cloud services and NFC connectivity to support growing mobile workforces. Flexible and scalable configurations let you choose the right device for your business.

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