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Gabsten Technologies is an established data management consulting company, based in Johannesburg, South Africa

Data Analytics is essential for the future of Petrochemicals and therefore data management is as well

Data Analytics is essential for the future of Petrochemicals and therefore data management is as well
28 Nov 2019

McKinsey predicts that by 2030, global petrochemical demand may slow from 3.6% to between 2.0% and 3.0%. With this ominous outlook, the McKinsey report further explained that as different trends come to bear on the sector, the industry will be facing a new set of challenges – one of these being the impact of digital and advanced analytics on operating models and markets. However, in highly regulated industries like petrochemicals, where large multinational corporations are subject to data laws from numerous countries in addition to this now apparent need for advanced analytics, effective data management is a complication all on its own. Meeting the increased demand for access to data, compliance and maximum uptime will be vital to ensure business operations are not disrupted. With 2030 fast approaching, rigorous processes must be followed, and effective solutions implemented to ensure data management supports business decision making and more importantly Business Continuity (BC).

In South Africa the petrochemical industry contributes approximately 5% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to our local economy and accounts for 25% of national manufacturing sales. Just like any other industry, data is extensively leveraged to sustain and grow these operations in an already challenged economy. Therefore, petrochemical organisations need to make several decisions around data management, including where the data resides and its retention period, as well as what should be done with the data following its expiry. This firstly requires that the organisations know what data they have and where it is located, so that accurate data retention and storage strategies are implemented without risk to the business.

The sheer volume of data generated by the various divisions of an organisation across geographies, as well as the requirement for compliance with a multitude of international laws, makes enterprise level data management tools essential. This is particularly important when data management is decentralised to individual country and branch operations.

With the added pressure of digitisation and need for advanced data analytics, the amount of data being generated will continue to increase and so too will the need for data management.

However, data management has two layers, specifically data protection and data storage management. Data protection ensures that data is backed up and protected against threats like ransomware and can be recovered in the event of a loss or disaster. Whereas, the storage management component is critical to control spiralling data costs. It is not possible to simply store everything forever. Capacity, cost and infrastructure all become extremely cumbersome and complex without data management. Archiving and storage management strategies need to be driven by the requirements of the business, and yet continue to adhere to regulatory requirements. While tools are readily available for cloud as an option, this needs to be carefully considered in terms of the full cost and return on investment, especially around data recovery and egress from the cloud.

Considering the complexities surrounding data management, having the right partner is essential. Inferior data management can lead to a false sense of security that data is protected and managed, when in reality businesses may be unaware of risks that exist. Experience is the best tool to understand what potential vulnerabilities may exist and how to counter them. However, it is just as important to ensure a partner is evolving with the IT industry and is an industry recognised expert in the type of storage solution and management options best suited to the business. Reputable providers will provide a full costing and scalability analysis so that organisations can make an informed choice about the best data management solution for them.

Without effective data management and protection, organisations within the petrochemical industry may fall victim to data loss. As a result, these organisations won’t be able to analyse necessary information to sustain and strengthen their operations and outputs. With experts now seeing a change in operational performance, as companies boost yield, energy, and throughput; reduce down time; and improve commercial margins by applying advanced analytics to operations, maintenance, and commercial processes – protecting and managing data is important than ever. Moreover, with the impending decline in demand for the industry, staying ahead of the game through analytics is imperative as we head towards 2030. Therefore, partnering with an experienced and evolutionary data management professional can help to mitigate these risks and ensure data is always available when and where it is needed.