Avoid data disaster with the personal touch of an SME

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By James Francis

Modern organisations must develop data cultures, particularly in the Public Sector which manages a lot of important information. But establishing such a culture is no small task, nor accomplished with the flick of a switch. It requires a personal touch to design, develop and scale such a culture in the right way. In this task, the customer’s biggest ally is the SME solutions provider.

Data is at risk everywhere. Private companies and public services are increasingly in the sights of cybercriminals. Recently Johannesburg’s City Power was infiltrated by a ransomware infection, a dangerous yet simple technique that encrypts data and demands a ransom to release the captured files.

Fortunately, City Power had a backup system in place and was able to restore operations. But it’s not only criminal elements threatening organisations – any disaster will do, such as a fire or hardware failure. In a blink of an eye, valuable data can become unavailable, workloads disappear and operations cease – yet most places are still ill-prepared for this.

“The common problems we see are usually around unstructured data,” said Mninikhaya Qwabaza, Director of Liyatech Solutions. “Customers don’t know what kind of data they have and there is no real control over the data. Ownership isn’t clear and data is often not consolidated, so you have many copies or versions of the same information.”

Data’s unkempt mess

Such situations result in several pains. Foremost, it’s tough to effectively backup data if you don’t know what to store and when. Where data is stored also has an impact: unstructured data means using a lot more high-level storage than is required. Some data is ‘hot’ and accessed frequently, other data is ‘cold’ and can be stored away for occasional reference. But in undisciplined environments both often use the same high-speed systems, causing unnecessary costs.

Fixing these issues is not easy. Technology can’t just swoop in and save the day. Though the underlying systems and services are important factors, the real work starts with the organisation itself.

Qwabaza explained: “You have to know what you have and how it is being used. That relates to how your business gets things done: the people and processes. It’s a methodical approach that involves auditing data, identifying stakeholders, training staff and going after priorities. Many decision-makers still don’t grasp this: you can’t fix a data problem in isolation. For example, you can’t just jump in and create good data security or backups. Many fundamental things must happen for any of that to work out well, such as integrating with existing systems and creating business-centric processes that staff will want to use.”

Fixing data with focus and passion

This is the perfect role for SME solution providers. Previously such tasks were suited for large providers, mainly because they have the resources to support such involved and delicate endeavours. But they can also be accused of lacking a personal touch. SMEs don’t have the luxury of juggling many large clients – they sing for their supper and that means bringing everything to the table and ensuring their customers experience results that matter.

With the right support, an SME can step into a large provider’s shoes. Liyatech leverages the framework and services developed by Axiz and Micro Focus. This gives it the muscle to deliver enterprise-level solutions, but keeps the company agile and focused on the project requirements. Qwabaza also credits the new capabilities of modern systems:

“Massive overhauls are no longer necessary. You can start with a minimal viable product and show the concept works, then scale it. It avoids overselling and the customer can see value sooner, so they become more involved. Thanks to the framework, we can be surgical about which Micro Focus services we offer our customers. We can focus on what they need.”

This is the personal touch so lacking in many modernisation projects. Even if you just wish to sleep easy at night, knowing your data is secure, achieving that requires focus, dedication and a passion to do right by your organisation. Cutting a cheque for a large solution provider is no guarantee this will happen. But a technology SME such as Liyatech, supported by an enterprise-grade delivery framework offered by Axiz and Micro Focus, can get the job done with real results.

 

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