Isme Oosthuizen, IZAZIIsme Oosthuizen, IZAZI

A number of organisations are afraid of the vast amounts of data they are being faced with, said Isme Oosthuizen, head of business intelligence (BI) at IZAZI, at the ITWeb BI Summit 2014.

She referred to this fear as ‘dataphobia’ – an irrational fear of data, typically occurring when decisions need to be made.

Data is increasing at an exponential rate, said Oosthuizen, pointing out that 2.5 exabytes of data is being created on a daily basis, equivalent to five billion works of Shakespeare every day.

Citing a recent survey, Oosthuizen noted 35% of businesses said operating profit is diminished as a consequence of unreliable data. Around 50% of JC Penney’s market capitalisation was lost because of decisions based on HiPPO [highest paid person’s opinion], she added. She also revealed there will a shortage of190 000 professionals with deep analytical skills required to fill big data jobs in 2018. And 39% of business representatives say data is not made available fast enough to act on.

To overcome this fear, Oosthuizen said organisations should adopt a data-driven culture.

This entails performing internal audits; utilising analytic and productivity tools; establishing a data reporting culture; giving staff access to data; holding regular data meetings; setting measurable goals; and communicating the right data, etc, she explained.

Extracting value from plain data as well as building BI by increments can also go a long way in overcoming the fear of data, she concluded.