The increasing importance of data management The increasing importance of data management

The planet’s population is at 7.8 billion and it keeps growing. More and more people work from home. Technologies like the Internet of Things, edge computing, and AI are being adopted at increasingly rapid rates. And demand for consumer endpoint devices is growing. All these factors result in the proliferation of enterprise data. In a bid to better manage the ever-accelerating amount of information, businesses need to understand how and where data is gaining in volume.

Essentially, this boom in information means that organizations need to be savvy and intentional about managing data. Too much enterprise data ends up in silos, which cannot be accessed by all who need it. Without automated methods and clear communication about different types of data and its purposes, managing data sprawl becomes untenable. 

But the data boom also brings with it a host of information that can be derived into revenue-generating insights. For example, organizations can build buyer profiles on customers, allowing them to create personalized experiences, which in turn lead to better brand affinity and loyalty.

A recent report you conducted in partnership with IDC found that 68% of business data goes unleveraged. Can you explain the value of data that isn’t being put to use?

No company wants their business data unleveraged, sitting dormant on servers. But for too many organizations, data is an underused, intangible asset that isn’t seen on a balance sheet—even though data has the power to drive new sources of revenue and improve customer experiences and operational efficiencies. Data can increase enterprise value even without being formally represented in financials.

The value of data for any given enterprise involves many variables, including the industry within which it is created, the purpose it serves, and if and how it is eventually monetized. Take, for example, the types of data created and managed by a hospital: patients’ health records, medical billing and insurance, operations and financial data to name but a few. 

Healthcare is a highly regulated industry, so data is required to be kept for many years. The value of each dataset will vary, especially data that is highly secure due to privacy and compliance requirements. But the information can be analyzed to implement efficient workflow management, improve care pathways and speed up recovery rates, if used correctly.

What are some of the biggest barriers to using data effectively?

Businesses face a number of challenges with regard to using data effectively. Chiefly, making sure data is usable. Often organizations collect data that they won’t be able to access or use to improve their services or internal processes. The survey found that the solution to a great deal of data management challenges is mass data operations, or DataOps—the discipline of connecting data creators with data consumers. Only an average of 10% of organizations report having implemented DataOps fully across the enterprise. The vast majority of enterprise leaders report the need for DataOps.

What types of benefits does good data management principles yield for business?

The goal of data management is to facilitate a holistic view of data and enable users to access and derive optimal value from it—both data in motion and at rest. Along with other data management solutions, DataOps leads to measurably better business outcomes: boosted customer loyalty, revenue, profit, and other benefits. The trouble with achieving these goals lies in part in businesses not understanding how to translate the information they hold into actionable outcomes. Once a business has toiled all the information it holds to unearth valuable insights, they can then enact changes or implement efficiencies to yield returns.

With so much data, how are businesses making sure it’s safely and securely stored?

Data security is consistently rated among the highest concerns and priorities of IT management and business leaders alike. But we can’t say that technology is always the answer in ensuring that data is securely and safely stored. A key challenge is getting alignment across organizations on the classification of data by risk and on how data should be stored and protected. That makes security a human issue; the tech is often easy.

Two thirds of survey respondents report insufficient data security, making data security an essential element of any discussion of efficient data management. Technology is a purchasing decision. And yes, it can offer a great deal, such as self-encrypting drives; firewalls and antivirus. 

But educating data users is a different matter. Business leaders should remember that the better employees and consumers are educated, the better it is for the business. Protecting data should be the responsibility across all levels and functions in an organization. It cannot merely be the domain of CISOs, CIOs, IT admins, security, and the legal teams.

  • Jeff Fochtman, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business at Seagate.

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