Data holds the power, says SAIPA's Hashim Salie

Used effectively, data has the ability to transform the way we do business.

Hindsight is the ability to understand an event or situation only after it has happened. But in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the benefit of hindsight is becoming a thing of the past. In the era of information and big data, foresight is an obtainable feat – not by gazing into a crystal ball or at the way lines curve on someone’s palm, but through big data analytics.

“Companies can make better use of the data available to move from hindsight to insight to foresight, because with foresight I can say, ‘this is what we are going to do and this is the result we are going to achieve’,” said Hashim Salie, chair for the South African Institute of Professional Accounting (Saipa) in the Western Region at the first day of Finance Indaba 2019. Hashim’s session examined the various ways data can be used in business, and the business of monetising data. 

Every day billions of users upload valuable data about themselves and their interests online. Whether it’s through images and videos on social networks or surfing the net, this information can be gathered and analysed to uncover patterns or connections that are otherwise invisible. This insight can give modern businesses an edge over their rivals and help them to make superior business decisions – through big data analytics.

Big data analytics is the process of examining large and varied sets of data, or big data. Data analysis is used to uncover information, reveal hidden patterns or unknown correlations, and can even detect market trends and customer preferences. This information helps businesses make informed business decisions.

Hashim said:

“Financial professionals need to rethink the way they bring about value to data, in order for their companies to optimally utilise that information.

There’s a saying that ‘knowledge is power’. In the world of business, information is an asset, but its value depends on its accuracy, as well as its potential and intended use.

“A while back, I needed a new car, so I did one internet search for the car I was interested in buying. To date, my feeds and internet searches are peppered with car adverts. That’s information and algorithms at work,” said Hashim.

Harnessing big data analytics is an invaluable tool for business in the digital world – and those who fail to embrace it, are likely to find themselves on the back foot.