Flemming BaggerAs more businesses embrace big data and the promise of analytics-driven decisions, many practitioners are beginning to consider better data governance practices. We (RF) caught up with Flemming Bagger (FB) Head of Data Management at SAS Institute’s Nordic Information Management Centre of Excellence, to understand what better practices are emerging.

RF: So much of the discussion around analytics is still at very high levels. Can you give us some examples of how analytics is changing decision making?
FB: What we see is that companies are increasingly embracing the wealth of available data whatever format or if it comes in real-time or batch. And then apply analytics and business rules to make more profitable and targeted decisions, ensure consistency in decision processes across channels, business units and geographies, adapt quickly to changing business objectives, execute decisions and processes faster as well as reducing the cost per decision. Examples such as trading decision processes, credit risk, loan, fraud detection and prevention processes can leverage predictive analytical models aligned with business rules and base it on bigger data set and real time information – for analytics and streamlining decisions. In the public sector, automated citizen and patient self-services use analytics to serve up better options.

RF: What’s different about your approach to enterprise information management and analytics?
FB: SAS has been dealing with analytics based on huge amounts of data for many years, so the Big Data trend is validation for us. The real value is not connected to how much data you have or where you store it, but how you use it. Usage patterns will rely on an efficient and agile data architecture as well as a certain organizational maturity and governance. More importantly, we see this topic growing to an enterprise-wide concern where a few companies are leading the innovation driven by real business problems. Our approach is much focused on treating information as a strategic asset but also how this high value asset can be leveraged and used for more advanced analytics and applied in the organization and decision processes.

RF: Enterprise-wide concerns mean complications. How do you help customers steer through these and harness timely results?
FB: Data and analytics are getting closer. We see business apps and analytics moving to the data instead of data move to business apps and analytics. Significantly, they are moving to where data is created, the source. This will drive faster business and process decisions, potentially based on much more data and insight, as analytics can be applied up front. Correlating and analysing available (and relevant) data across the enterprise vs. a departmental narrow approach has potential high benefits. Business users will be empowered as they can make decision as things happen. As analytics and business decisions moves closer to the data a refinement of data governance will be needed e.g. data quality must be done earlier in the process and enterprise wide taxonomy across all data will be important.

RF: You lead the Data Management centre of excellence(CoE) for SAS in the Nordics. What is the role of this team?
FB: The mission of the CoE is to enable, enlist and empower our organization, customers and partners on the key trends, themes and solutions. Specifically within Information Management we see an ever increasing need for governance if the effort around analyzing and visualising is expected to deliver better and faster decisions and business outcome. This team has significant experience and is qualified to provide thought leadership and support to customers who are embarking on a Big Data Analytics journey that has higher stakes.

RF: Looking ahead, where do you expect your team to focus in 2014?
FB: It will be a busy year for us. Many customers are contemplating how to best integrate their data into various analytics initiatives that serve point decisions well, but could be harnessed for wider benefit. SAS has a platform and architecture with tightly integrated data and analytics. We also have the capability to tap into non-SAS systems. So we are already busy with exciting and complex integrations which often start with governance and alignment.

Disclosure: SAS Institute is a client.

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