Why Information Management Should Be a Key Strategic Concern for Every Executive.

Pekka Kuokka
S&N Oy

Information management is critical for the successful execution of business operations and for the understanding of profitability – fundamentals for every executive. Information management must be at the core of all business operations and be specially designed to meet managerial needs and processes. Elaborating further on these statements, Pekka Kuokka draws from his international experience at Kone and HK Scan to provide further insight.

“What does information management mean in my business? This is a question everyone should be asking in his or her company,” says Pekka Kuokka. For him the answer is straightforward: “To support and enable effective business by delivering qualified data for management, as well as to further develop automation.”

“With data management of such critical importance, it is a wonder why ICT departments receive so little interest and understanding. When data management functions properly, it creates a competitive advantage. It shouldn’t just be seen as a cost. We are in the middle of a digitalizing economy, even in manufacturing. Unless data management is well organized, pivotal solutions will remain the stuff of dreams.”

Efforts Needed from the Decision Makers

In order to build an organization the basics of data management should be mastered at every level. This requires both business and ICT people to recognize the real needs and requirements for effective data management. In so doing, the full added value of data management can be harnessed for the company. For international companies, a well-managed ICT programme is already a basic requirement.

“An essential management tool is a uniform system of numerical reporting which provides comparable numerical data obtained from different units around the world. It is evident that producing such data on a weekly, let alone daily, basis is not easy. Either huge and inaccurate manual processes are required or a well automated data management system should be put in place.”

The automation of data streams and work stages lies at the core of data management, which justifies the investment in ICT. Automation frees up resources, which can in turn be used more efficiently.

“People will always be required but their roles should evolve from routine manual work to the planning and development of effective automation, i.e. focusing on how to constantly improve processes by using the data management tools.”

First Fix MDM

MDM has a crucial role in the basis of data management. The more extensive and complicated the company structure and business models are, the more significant becomes the investment in master data. According to Kuokka, all ICT development projects should start from master data.

“To redesign data management always feels like an enormous project, but luckily it can be done step by step. The first and relatively easy step is to have a MDM star, which harmonizes master data throughout the different systems. Old and non-compatible systems can still be used, however, as via this development and re-calibration they can be made to produce homogenous data for reporting.”

“The maintenance of ICT solutions and new implementations fail or are delayed many times because MDM is not fit for purpose. Consequently budgets overrun and even after project completion reporting can remain anachronistic. This failure to provide real-time data effectively blindfolds management and increases the risk of miscalculation.”

MDM automates the interpretation phase between the systems. Common MDM definition processes produce accounting and business information even if the systems have not yet been harmonized.

“Companies having units in different countries face various challenges with accounting procedures, laws and currencies, to name but a few. Unified master data at its best eliminates the need to interpret data, and transparency between the units grows and becomes more reliable.”

The Authorities Demand ICT-reforms

Authorities make demands for companies to reform their ICT. Different national and international laws, regulations and procedures call for data management, greater transparency and ability to produce accurate data. These requirements apply especially to stock listed companies, but increasingly to smaller companies as well.

“Audits, regulations in data security, demands of corporate governance and shareholders, and IFRS- accounting standards have become stricter and evolve constantly. These all demand a great deal from data management and can even result in sanctions.”

“The authorities demand accurate information, which require huge resources if reporting from the individual-level is not effectively automated and consolidated at group-level. Previously, required figures were produced once a year for auditing purposes, where as now auditing is continual and pervades all systems and configured processes.”