A self-confessed “recovering manufacturer” says he’s the living proof of what happens if firms don’t utilise data properly.

Tom Dawes is now the CEO of Valuechain, which provides software to improve the productivity of manufacturing businesses and employs 60 people across the UK, China and India.

Dawes, who was speaking at BusinessCloud’s ‘Tech in Manufacturing' breakfast, told the near 100-strong audience he learnt from his experience in the sector of what happens if you don’t use data properly.

“I had some successes then made lots of bad decisions and the business started to fail between 2007 and 2009,” he said.

“One of the problems I had with my own business was that I hadn’t embedded really robust processes or got good data. That makes it hard to scale and it gets out of control.”

Getting the right data to the right people at the right time is crucial to avoid similar mistakes, he added.

“Having had that opportunity to fail I realised how much I could have improved my decision-making if I’d had better data to hand.”

The event

His experience was the inspiration for Valuechain, which provides smart software solutions to help manufacturing organisations generate reliable business intelligence, both within their own four walls and around market intelligence.

The North West-headquartered company has a turnover of £2 million and works with big blue chip companies like Bentley Motors and Rolls Royce as well as around 400 manufacturing SMEs.

“It’s information about what their customers and suppliers are doing so they can look at their overall supply chain, look at the risk, and make more informed decisions.”

READ MORE: Hotter Shoes targets £100m growth through tech

Knowing where to start is where many companies struggle, continued Dawes.

He warns businesses dealing with large amounts of data against “paralysis by analysis”.

“It’s about understanding whether it’s data or intelligence, and focusing on the right data, not just capturing it for the sake of it,” he said.

“The information you used last year might not be the most important now, so it’s reviewing what data you need to make more informed decisions.”

The breakfast event was sponsored by DLA Piper and Jumpstart. The other speakers were: Steve Mulholland, manufacturing director, Polyflor; Robert Perkins, chief operating officer, Hotter Shoes; Leanne Holmes, operations director/site leader Manchester, Crane Payment Innovations; Ian Wolfendale, client engagement manager, Jumpstart; Dave Holmes, manufacturing director, BAE Systems Military Air & Information; Martin Strutt, consultancy director, EEF; Luke Stubbs, IT and IP commercial lawyer, DLA Piper; and David Judge, managing director, Cormar Carpets.

The event’s hashtag #manufacturingtech was trending on Twitter. Follow the full timeline of proceedings below.