Making SA enterprise smarter: Get set for next generation analytics wave

The winner of Microsoft South Africa’s Data, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Partner of the Year award for 2018 has been taking data analytics to the next level for 17 years. Now Altron Karabina is gearing up for even more innovation across analytics-as-a-service, more advanced predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Paul Morgan, Business Unit Lead: Data, Planning and Analytics at Altron Karabina, says the company has been delivering data solutions for nearly 18 years. “Back in 2001, Karabina was quite a pioneer in the BI and analytics space. At the time it was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off. The keys to our success have been our Microsoft focus and ongoing innovation, along with the fact that over the years we have acquired a lot of expertise in working with a huge variety of systems to deliver analytics .”

Altron Karabina’s Data, Planning and Analytics business unit has grown to include around 50 consultants with around 300 clients across the spectrum of industries, particularly financial services, insurance and investment, retail, manufacturing and mining, and some in the public sector. The company’s mission is not simply to sell solutions – it is to help its customers succeed, compete and innovate. “We help businesses succeed. Over the years, we’ve always focused on helping clients achieve their vision for their business.” says Morgan.

Partner focused

In 2018, the award focused in particular on a partner that delivered on Azure Data Services, modern analytics and artificial intelligence.

These platforms present exciting innovation opportunities for Altron Karabina and its customers, says Morgan. “We are starting to do things in the world of machine learning, and Azure is the platform for us to use. Among other innovations, we’re now harnessing Python and R in complicated data cleansing tasks. Traditionally, we set up hundreds of rules for data quality, but  we can now apply machine learning to provide a more flexible solution.”

Microsoft Power BI Interactive Data Visualisation BI Tools are also helping Altron Karabina deliver to customers innovation that drives better business. “We have built a Power BI adoption accelerator mechanism, helping people to monitor adoption metrics.  CIO’s can now determine who logs on and actually uses the tools, who the biggest users are, right down to which dashboards are used most often and which aren’t,” Morgan says.  “Power BI is set to replace traditional BI tools in organisations across the board – in fact, we have our hands full coping with demand out of Gauteng alone,” he says.

Morgan adds this is part of a larger trend for data to enjoy increased focus among South African enterprises. “There is still huge demand from organisations looking to get more from their data,” he says. “We’re seeing CIOs’ looking to refresh data as an asset, and companies seeking to review their BI in light of new business requirements, such as machine learning and IoT analytics.”

The basics

“But many organisations are still battling with the basics – such as bringing together their data from disparate systems. They may still have problems determining whether customer A in one system is the same as customer B in another. If organisations dont have the complet epicture of their customer base, they may struggle to move ahead with new data and analytics projects. There are opportunities to bring the transactional systems together, consolidate data, and then apply advanced tools in innovative new ways. Even large organisations that may have mastered their master data over the past 15 years might not have evolved enough to deal with the issues they have in 2019.”

Morgan also believes many organisations find the scale of their data ambitions to be a stumbling block. “Many traditional data warehouse and analytics projects have failed because people try get 100% of the data into the environment before they start an analytics project. But in reality, they don’t need all their data consolidated to start benefiting from analytics and identifying trends,” he says.

“Many local organisations are now looking to future proof their data warehouses. Altron Karabina doesn’t just focus on the technology side, we also advise on strategy, approaches and architecture. Now as part of Altron, we are building in additional capacity and scale to cope with increasing demand,” he says.

Morgan notes that growing demand for Microsoft Power BI tools and skills is presenting a number of opportunities. Microsoft Power BI cloud-based business analytics enables monitoring, analysis and sharing of all of an enterprises’ most important data on one dashboard. “Our Power training can have up to 100 people registered at a time, which tells me people are planning to roll out Power BI projects across the board at enterprise level, and we will have our hands full coping with the growth in this field.

“I think there are huge opportunities for growth for both Altron Karabina and Microsoft in South Africa and into Africa in the short term, so we look forward to exciting and innovative times ahead,” he concludes.

This article was originally published in the IT Web Brainstorm Supplement, Alpha – Meeting the Azure opportunity. The article was written by Tracy Burrows

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