Seven Ways Mining Companies Turn Data into a Competitive Advantage

Practical examples of goals that can be achieved by architecting a better flow of information

Seven Ways Mining Companies Turn Data into a Competitive Advantage Seven Ways Mining Companies Turn Data into a Competitive Advantage Seven Ways Mining Companies Turn Data into a Competitive Advantage Seven Ways Mining Companies Turn Data into a Competitive Advantage Seven Ways Mining Companies Turn Data into a Competitive Advantage

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This guide focuses on streamlining the flow of information within Metals, Mining & Materials (MMM) companies. To transform your organization into a more agile, innovative, resilient and sustainable enterprise, effectively managing the flow of information is a necessary platform for success.

At a time when the speed of business was accelerating at an unprecedented rate, Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates wrote Business @ The Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System. "The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition ... is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose," he wrote. In the book, Gates develops the idea of a "digital nervous system" which must, like the body's nervous system, filter through a flood of information to identify what is truly critical.

As a concept, the digital nervous system offers intriguing insight for businesses. As a comparison, the human nervous system translates environmental data through the senses into electrical impulses that integrate with subsystems (reflexes) and central processing centers in the brain, allowing for seamless interconnectivity and speed. Now consider companies. How quickly does data move through a typical MMM company? From instrument sensor to report, how quickly can you roll up the numbers for a regulatory report or an annual sustainability report? If you decided on a new corporate initiative, how quickly could you create the metrics and KPIs to drive that initiative? If you could do these things at the speed of thought, what impact might that have on innovation and agility?

We call this digital nervous system the data infrastructure. Organizing your data infrastructure to positively impact business is complex but not difficult. Below are seven aspects related to data that encourage your enterprise to think and act at the speed of thought, resulting in more value and impact for your business:

  1. DATA COLLECTION: collect everything. Be not only data-driven, but data-hungry. You will never know what will be important knowledge in the future. Develop a system that can interface with new and legacy data systems, gather and serve the right amount of data, and have the ability to scale as the business grows and concomitant data increases. Recognize that there may be special attributes of different data types that require special handling. Have the necessary systems to handle those types. Identify which information systems can act as "systems of record" and draw from those for integration and analytics. For mining companies looking for better ways to store and manage data, understand the subtle benefits and limitations involved in supporting a data warehouse solution for efficiency. For example, operational data is time-series based and is much different in nature than financial data, which is more manageable in data warehousing.

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