Managing Director at Master Data Management (Pty) Ltd
Gary Allemann is a data management specialist with over 15 years of delivery of data governance, data quality, and master data management solutions across a range of industries. He focuses on providing foundational data management capabilities that deliver trusted data for operations and analytics, break down data siloes, and reduce data-related risks.
Gary’s approach leverages international partnerships and approaches adapted based on his understanding of the complexities of dealing with data in multicultural, multilingual environments.
What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?
During my early career in IT, I became aware of the impact of poor-quality data on many projects, particularly when rolling out CRM in the late 1990s.
In my experience, the operational impact of poorly understood and managed data presents at least as many opportunities as can be gained from analytics. This direct link between data and business outcomes, keeps things interesting.
What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?
That would have to be the decision to walk away from a salary and start my own data management business in 2006. Our focus is different to most other data management businesses in Southern Africa and this has allowed us to build a diverse customer base, across multiple industries, and keep going for over 15 years.
What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?
In South Africa, data is still seen very much as an IT problem, although this is beginning to change. Business cases with a focus on IT outcomes fail to excite business, which in turn can lead to lack of delivery. We need as an industry to focus more on education and drawing the connections between data and operational outcomes.
How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?
I’d love to be able to say that business will become more engaged, but I am not sure that they will. What I do think is that the desire to get better insights more quickly; the shift to new, cloud-based technologies; and the increased focus on data privacy and ethics are conflicting challenges that data professionals will have to deal with and that solving these will require business stakeholders to increase their engagement with data.
Do you have any planned next steps for your career?
We have just signed up an exciting new partnership with Okera who play in the dynamic access / data privacy space, so this is an area of learning and growth for the next period.
What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far? Why has it been so important to you?
“Understand the end goal.” Not sure where it came from, but the reality is that it can really be easy to get sucked into the detail and the complexity. Being clear on why you are doing something, be that a data quality project or a data governance process is important to prioritize and define a sensible scope that will deliver value in a reasonable time.
Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?
I am blessed to mentor and support several individuals, mainly with life skills. Giving back to the community is rewarding.
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