By 21 June 2023 | Categories: feature articles


Nathi Dube, Director, PBT Innovation at PBT Group

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the automation of creating data started coming to the fore at the end of last year with the public launch of ChatGPT. Given the promise of being able to do more with less, South African organisations are turning to these AI and data automation environments as enablers of supporting new business processes in their cloud-driven systems.

With global data creation projected to reach more than 180 zettabytes in 2025, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to process data manually. This is where data automation comes in. It is the process of using automation tools to ingest, transform, and process data without any manual intervention. At the same time, local businesses must be able to maximise their data assets to remain competitive, and agilely adapt to a changing market. Furthermore, data automation enables a company to better understand its customers so as to meet their constantly changing needs. In doing so, the organisation can ensure it remains relevant in today’s rapidly evolving market.

Building blocks

So, even though ChatGPT and similar platforms may be in their infancy, the relevance of strategic data automation is certainly not. Data automation is a crucial part in the digital transformation journey. Embracing this helps a company to create a smooth, end-to-end digital experience for users. From an automation perspective, removing manual or human intervention where applicable can also reduce errors while improving system reliability.

Remaining competitive requires business and technology leaders to leverage their data assets to better understand and deliver on customer needs, innovate faster, and create solutions that are more agile to organisational demands. Data automation can help organisations achieve their digital transformation goals by removing manual interventions which reduces errors and improves overall system reliability.

Strategic direction

Fundamentally, the underlying infrastructure that has been put in place to support the data automation process must allow for scalability. This will enable the data automation tools to be configured to cope with growing data volumes.

Companies therefore need to develop a comprehensive data automation strategy and must adopt the right data automation technologies. Things to consider in this regard include identifying problem areas and having a comprehensive view of the enterprise data landscape. This will highlight the areas of the business which will most benefit from automation.

A data automation strategy will also empower the business to categorise data across the data landscape based on the format in which it is stored. The company must define the transformation rules that need to be applied to the data and select a data automation tool that meets its specific requirements. The final step in the process is to schedule the automation.

An AI world

Even though the efficacy of ChatGPT might still be open to debate, there is no getting around the fact that it has created awareness of just how data automation can benefit a business. Data automation has become mission-critical if companies are to efficiently process the growing volumes of data they are generating.

By automating data ingestion, transformation, and processing, South African businesses can reduce errors and improve system reliability. Data automation gives them the competitive edge to gain a better understanding of their customers’ needs while reducing the potential for human error when it comes to data collection and analysis.

The coming months will see businesses increasingly grapple with living in a world and economy driven by data and how to effectively use AI tools to automate the relevant processes. Those companies who will process and analyse their data efficiently and derive insights more quickly than their competitors will be the ones that gain the advantage for growth.


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