Breaking down data silos: what you need to know

- February 3, 2020 3 MIN READ

What would you do if members of your team were losing two hours of productivity per day simply because they couldn’t find or use the information or data they need to fulfil their job?, asks Howard Fyffe, Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand, Veritas Technologies

We can assume it would spark concern, confusion, or even anger, amongst other responses. By the time you’ve read this, you are a step closer to channel that emotion into breaking something positive, and make your business more profitable.

Data for one, data for all

Data is the new oil, fuelling business today. With connected devices we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to data, but our inability to effectively manage it is creating challenges that have real world implications.

A recent Value of Data study found that organisations lose over AUD2.5 million dollars per year as they struggle with data management challenges. This is likely due to the fact that employees waste 2 hours per day looking for relevant data.

Data means different things to different people. For the marketing team, it can mean personal information gathered via a device or point of sale that creates an opportunity to better understand a customer. For accounting, it’s probably a number on a balance sheet that’s generated by incoming and outgoing finances. To sales, it’s most likely a moving target that’s broken down by cost-per-lead, or similar metrics. For IT department, it’s thousands – if not millions – of bits and bytes that they must build a fortress around.

Often, this data has been collected in isolation and with different methods and processes. It has resulted in rigid complexity where specialised point solutions won’t allow infrastructure to scale or react nimbly, and inefficient spending as organisations buy additional storage to address escalating data growth. It can also result in data loss as companies migrate to the cloud without a clear understanding of the provider’s data protection responsibilities or a comprehensive migration plan.

Operations slow to a crawl

The siloed approach has clear challenges with real implications. Less than a third (28 percent) of respondents say their company has adopted an integrated approach to data management. Roughly the same (38 percent) said employees are less efficient due to siloed data management processes.

Just one example: data protection laws like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require a company to locate specific information in order to remove it. An IT manager might get a request to find all instances of personal data and delete it, and in a siloed environment, this can mean hours of time wasted, and potential financial risk to the company should the request not be fulfilled.

Extrapolate this out, an enterprise can be completely hamstrung by its approach – or the lack of it – to data management.

Decisions stop altogether

Poor data management doesn’t just impact those directly working with it, but executives who rely on insights to make strategic decisions. 37 percent of respondents say inefficient data management processes are slowing strategic decision-making in their organisation.

This is likely because a siloed approach can lead to all enterprise data being treated roughly the same. It’s difficult to draw conclusions from disparate data. Unsurprisingly, the complexity of their data footprint limits their ability to realise the value of their data.

The key challenges? Too many different data management systems to manage, spiralling costs making management harder, too many complex data sources that are difficult to analyse, and a lack of skills or technology to harness the power of data.

Success factors

 Once realised, the way forward is simple in concept, but potentially difficult in execution. The two key factors that help enterprises realise the benefits of data management are: cultivating a strategic mindset to data management, and having the right technology in place.

The first involves taking a high-level view of how data will be managed throughout its lifecycle. This includes everything from protection, classification, provisioning, analysis, and final deletion or archiving. Respondents say successful data management involves support from strong senior management (32 percent), taking a structured approach to improving data management (45 percent) and having strong employee awareness about using data efficiently (51 percent).

The right technology is also key. A significant number of respondents (43 percent) said adopting the right tools was a key success factor.

Done right, empowering your team with full visibility and control of data can yield enormous results. IT leaders expect that investing in data management can produce an ROI of 2.02 for every dollar spent.

The potential is there in your siloes. Go break them.

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