Enterprise data that is treated as an asset is highly likely to be compliant. A bank’s account services are valuable assets and must align with regulations. A machine or manufactured product must observe a host of rules such as health and safety, calibrations or environmental demands. Therefore data must be engineered effectively and given the same level of organisational importance as its asset peers elsewhere in the organisation.
When online data businesses overtook oil firms in 2016 as the most valuable businesses globally, it should have heralded an understanding of the value of data. The truth is somewhat different; many organisations continue to struggle with understanding the value of the data they collect and hold. One government CIO revealed to Gartner, vice president and distinguished analyst Douglas Laney that his organisation has a better audit of its toilets in the building than its information.
Alphabet (parent firm of Google), Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have become the world’s most valuable firms because of their understanding of data’s intrinsic value. Perhaps that is easy to understand in the case of the search engine firm such as Google, but for Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, it was by valuing and using data that these businesses have diversified into media production, recruitment platforms, considered financial services and become more than the handset for communications, but the entire network. It was only through the insights into how their customers were behaving that these giants of technology have been able to disrupt the formerly secure worlds of banking, publishing, travel and much more.
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The Value of Data Management
To begin to realise the value of data, organisation’s need to ensure data access management is well-engineered and enables teams to collaborate and analyse information to generate insight. Organisations with poor data management, data silos, low-quality information and traditional data architecture will find too many obstacles to good data access. Poor data access means the value of that data cannot be understood or realised. It is for this reason that many CIOs are pursuing data strategies to ensure the organisation’s information is well structured and utilises the technologies and tools that will enable insight and, therefore, value generation.
eSynergy Solutions often discovers organisations are failing to realise the value of their data due to localised data control and ownership, but the most common factor is a lack of discovery, context and trust (provenance, accuracy and integrity), that prevents wider use of business data.
Enterprise cloud computing and the data analytics tools, built for cloud-based data management, provide CIOs and CTOs with the technology foundations for scalable and efficient data management. Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and Microsoft not only understand the value of data but have been early and aggressive adopters of the latest cloud-based data management technologies. Organisations cannot hope to compete with web-scale data-oriented enterprises using traditional data standards and technologies. You just cannot deliver agility, scale and speed. Many companies are just at the beginning of their data journey, and some will be hindered by their ability to change the culture, build technology platforms at speed and compete for talent to realise their data strategies.
And here lies a danger for organisations, the pace of technology-led business change is well understood, but organisations without a data strategy, the technologies, partners and skills in place will not be able to reduce the time to an actionable insight that many in senior leadership desire. Existing data structures mean insight can take days, perhaps weeks or months, to pass through disparate reporting lines of the organisation. Therefore accelerating information management practices with cloud-based automation, analysis and presentation services can provide organisations with the first steps towards demonstrating the value of the data held in the business.The introduction of the European wide General Data Protection Regulation in 2016 has begun to develop a data-centric culture in an organisation. The threat of major fines has got the attention of the executive board of organisations in all vertical markets, however protecting data and reducing the likelihood of fines and loss of reputation will, at best, help an organisation remain in stasis. To remain competitive, organisations will have to utilise their data to better serve their customers, remain competitive and possibly comply with other regulations. To do this, organisations must develop a data-centric culture based on the data strategy and underpinned by a well-engineered data technology stack. With the right culture in place, organisations will be able to identify opportunities to improve productivity, efficiency and profitability. Examples exist across all vertical markets; in the energy sector, a data-driven strategy is enabling smart meters to provide data to customers and improve services, whilst transport, retail, government and financial services organisations have used their data to modernise services, reduce costs and win new business.
Organisations with a strong culture and architecture towards data will be the ones that are successful at digital transformation, a vital programme for many organisations adapting to the new post-pandemic economy. Data is the key component to the two most vital aspects of digital transformation: optimising business operations and improving customer services.