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Technology

Data Management from an SMB Perspective

How important is data to you? As a financial executive, data drives your understanding of your business and helps you communicate the past, present and predicted future of your company’s financial results. You may have read articles on intelligent automation, business intelligence, predictive analytics and other amazing things happening in the finance world. You want to hear about the newest fintech solutions, but often, presentations on data organization and security are not met with the same enthusiasm.  

The latest FEI CFIT meeting was virtual in September of 2020 due to the complications associated with traveling and gathering together during the pandemic. The agenda had advanced topics on fintech solutions and the one that made sense for me to share was “Transform Enterprise Data and Analytics”  by Protiviti.

You might be thinking, why this particular presentation?  The pandemic is wreaking havoc with many business, including my own as a capital equipment manufacturer and distributor for mainly the semiconductor market in the USA. I know my company’s competitors are using this time to improve and are making these improvements to be a stronger company when this pandemic ends.

Now could be the best time to restructure and clean up your data for technologies like predictive analytics to really be beneficial to your company. According to Protiviti, “In 2020, 50% of organizations lack sufficient AI and data literacy skills to achieve business value.”  Artificial Intelligence, or AI, modeling needs clean, organized data to work well.

Protiviti shared the concept of Enterprise Information Management (EIM) which are the building blocks of a data program.

SMB companies make up the majority of companies headed up by FEI members. Often, we do not have a huge staff to dedicate to data management. What we can do is learn what big companies are doing and extract some elements to incorporate into a smaller company. As the CFO for my company, I have responsibility for both Finance and IT which I suspect is a growing trend at SMBs. 

This what my company is doing in relation to graph above:

  • Under Data Architecture, my small company is doing value chain analysis. It helps you identify all the business functions that drive and support in your business process so you can identify where you can improve. It involves process mapping of your current process identify bottle necks, under capacity and over capacity of business resources. We used this analysis to do a reorganization shift people to where there are better suited and can contribute for a more efficient process.
  • Under Data Governance, we are updating our company policies and procedures. We are adding more data fields, we are removing redundant, unnecessary data structures. We are simplifying the way our data is organized and collected. We have updated our data collection efforts to include transaction recording with bar codes.
  • Under Document & Content Management, we developed an incremental data backup solution that sends a mirror copy of our data to hybrid cloud solution. We also use NAS devices (Network Attached Storage) for additional on-site backups to our servers. These will likely be migrated to a cloud solution next.
  • Under Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence, we have expanded access to business intelligence software which we use as a query tool.

Every company is different and you might extract other elements from the data management system. As the world advances, we get more tools like AI to help us. If you have not taken a leap to greater data literacy, make this your call to action.

Here is another statistic from the presentation: “Recent polling of Chief Data Officers (CDOs) by Gartner has shown that poor data literacy is one of their biggest challenges they face and a major prohibitor to the success of their office.”

 If you are looking for a partner to help you, Protiviti could help you meet that challenge.