Wasting data? Then listen up.

“Information maturity defines the difference between a good and a great business,” says Nick Bell, CEO of Decision Inc. “Proper use of data is not about impressing during board presentations with clever-looking graphs,” he says. “It’s about using information to improve important parts of the business, like logistics or preventive maintenance.”

Decision Inc. advises over 400 clients and helps them implement the latest and greatest technological solutions, with an emphasis on proper use of data. To help clients understand their organisation's information maturity, Decision Inc. has created an Information Maturity Calculator that allows them to measure and benchmark their organisation.

"Clients are eager to talk around Predictive Analysis and Artificial Intelligence. However, for the organisation to be ready and prepared to engage with this type of information, they need to first understand where they stand on the Information Maturity Curve."

He explains that getting from a position low on the curve to 40 and 50 percent is generating the quickest wins for companies. There are still plenty of firms that are barely extracting value out of their own information and can make this gain, he says. "This is about the democratisation of data. Information becomes a key value asset. We work with clients like Simba and Makro, which are busy making certain information available on tablets for live in-store reviews. That saves a lot of time and adds a lot of quality to the process."

Talking about information maturity helps a company like Decision Inc. position their clients' needs, says Nick. "It also means we can enable them to benchmark against their industry and company size. It helps us unpack what the next steps are."

Change management is a crucial factor when an organisation wants to start using their data better, says Nick. "If you look at some companies or parastatals, they often have a workforce of people who have been in their jobs for decades. We did a great sales and analytics project at a client, but the change was average. The second time around, we made sure we identified influencers within the teams and they became part of the solution."

Some companies are already between 80 to 100 percent up on the information maturity curve, but Nick says Decision Inc. can still play a massive role improving data analytics, understanding the levers and scenario planning with clever algorithms.

"It is a very competitive space. Our approach includes both technical and strategic competence, which sets us apart. We can speak across all levels and industries, whether dealing with boards, IT teams, retailers, insurers or hotel chains."

With its big scope for improvement, how does South Africa compare internationally? "We have just bought a business in Australia and when we do the comparison, we - as South Africa - are not doing as badly as we think we are. But we cannot put enough emphasis on innovation and driving change," says Nick. "This is difficult in a tough economy. What Australia does have, is a great appreciation of the importance of the global economy to drive growth. In South Africa, we are often very internally focused. We really need to stress the importance of being globally relevant."