Data management bedrock can fuel Kingdom’s digital economy
Saudi Arabia has a vast opportunity to use data analytics to fuel its digital economy and power Vision 2030.
Good data management is the bedrock that will help gain value and competitive advantage from data in the Kingdom. Subsequent to the issuance of new governing regulations by the National Data Management Office — the regulatory arm of the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority — now is the time to act.
The new rules provide a structure and environment for individual organizations to build robust data management strategies. However, these alone will not fulfill Vision 2030’s ambitious goals around data.
To drive business value, individual organizations need to develop their own data management practices — tailored to the type and quality of their data. Data is now a significant driver of business value. If that data can be kept secure, accurate and available for analysis, it can offer a competitive advantage.
Good data management enables organizations to use, share, and in effect, democratize their data to glean maximum value from it and, in doing so, gain a competitive edge. But to get to this stage, the right foundations need to be in place so that data is relevant, accessible and trustworthy.
Fragmented data or fragmented architecture keeps businesses away from yielding the results they expect from data. Therefore, it is more crucial to have processes in place to manage structured, semi-structured and unstructured data that accrues over time.
When data is accurate and trustworthy, great achievements can be made. Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app is a shining example of joined-up data management. Tawakkalna uses centralized collection and data analysis. It enabled the Kingdom to move quickly in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the pandemic, the app now also includes a range of other features as a result of a cross-entity data management approach.
Nevertheless, the appetite to progress at speed and make use of new technologies is tempered by the challenge of data volume, legacy systems and fragmented data. Putting in place the right data foundations will enable organizations to make leaps forward in terms of technology adoption and value creation from data in the medium and longer term.
The foundations of sound data management are critical to the success of the data strategy. A successful strategy has business buy-in throughout the organization, from the CEO to individual contributors, with data becoming a “single source of truth” to everyone.
Good data management encourages a data culture through democratized data, accessible to many and trusted by all. The starting point for all of this is readying your data. The most important part of effective data management is to put in place solid foundations.
Since the foundations of sound data management are critical to the success of the data strategy, KPMG’s methodology for data management lists four steps: Setting up a data strategy, data management and governance, metadata management and data classification, and data quality and master data management.
Companies need to nurture data culture from the top-down and bottom-up. This requires a data team with the right skills, training, accessibility and management. The appropriate data infrastructure, including governance and management, is the foundational building block of a strong data culture.
• Mazhar Hussain is Head of Digital Science and Innovation at KPMG in Saudi Arabia. He joined the firm as part of an investment in digital capabilities and leads the Lighthouse and Insights Center.