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The Data Driven Organisation

Are you a data-driven organisation?

Freddie Soon, Country Manager Commvault Malaysia on making this an organisational imperative now

What do you consider the most critical aspect of ensuring that organisations have data they can make sense of and rely on?

With organisations becoming data-driven in today’s digital world, they need to ensure that they know what data they have, where it is located, who created it and who can access it, but most importantly, what value it adds to the organisation. In order to do that, there needs to be a fundamental change in the way data is stored, managed and analysed, moving away from departmental (or siloed) approaches when managing data assets.

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In fact, a recent survey conducted by IDC and commissioned by Commvault (The Data-Driven Organisation : Unlocking greater value from data and minimising its associated costs and risks) identified that :-

  •  40 percent of IT decision makers across APAC report that backup, recovery, data protection and analytics strategies are still managed at a departmental level.
  • Nearly a third (26 percent) of Malaysian businesses pointed towards the trend of keeping data management and analytics strategies at a departmental level as the cause of these data silos.

This siloed data management has resulted in a number of fundamental issues for IT teams, with 23 percent stating security was a prime concern of data siloes, comparable with 29 percent for APAC as a whole.

Adopting an enterprise-wide data management strategy will bring positive impact to business agility and performance. The lack of such strategy, however, not only creates significant challenges and risk for IT, it also impacts storage costs and hinders governance processes. The organisation’s ability to harness the full value of all its data assets and to accurately anticipate and respond to new market trends and changing customer requirements will also be affected.

One of the things that set data-driven companies apart from their peers is their ability to gather relevant data from all aspects of their business, which allows them to dive deeper to understand how to act on market trends, opportunities and risks.

Do you believe that becoming data-driven is an organisational imperative now? If yes, what reasons do you have for this?

Freddie Soon

Freddie Soon

Yes, definitely. In today’s digital world, where we generate more data than ever before, becoming a data-driven organisation is no longer an option, but a necessity.

If you aren’t using your data strategically, your competitors certainly are. And with organisations growing and failing faster than ever before, markets can experience seismic shifts in an instant – you want to be using your data to anticipate the opportunities and drive competitive advantage. Companies are making decisions based on data-driven approaches as it not only increases the accuracy of results but also provides consistency in how the results are interpreted and actioned into the business.

One of the things that set data-driven companies apart from their peers is their ability to gather relevant data from all aspects of their business, which allows them to dive deeper to understand how to act on market trends, opportunities and risks.

Increasingly, more organisations across Asia Pacific are adopting Big Data and analytics to add more context to their customer data to deliver greater customer experiences. The same applies to using data for assessing financial implications, risks, compliance and operational effectiveness.

Transformation to a data-driven organisation drives significant benefits. IDC research shows that organisations that are highly analytical tend to be more competitive within their industry – more than twice as likely to substantially outperform their peers.

I think most organisations recognise the value that their information can bring. However, over the past few years, many have jumped ahead to advanced analytics before really understanding what data they have and how they can use it.

Furthermore, data-driven organisations are more profitable and more productive than their competitors, as confirmed in the 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, Strength in numbers: How does data-driven decision making affect firm performance?

I think most organisations recognise the value that their information can bring. However, over the past few years, many have jumped ahead to advanced analytics before really understanding what data they have and how they can use it. We’ve been working with many organisations who’ve needed to go back to the foundations, get the data right and get that end-to-end view of their information through a single lens. Only then have they been able to be truly strategic in using their data as an asset and moving forward with confidence.

The challenges with data can be many and varied – data in different physical locations, multiple departments, hosted in third party datacentres or virtual environments and kept in multiple formats. What do you suggest as the first few steps to deal with these data challenges?

Firstly, ask yourself a number of questions and see if you are able to answer any of them.

  1. What information is being stored?
  2. What importance does it carry?
  3. Where is the data being stored?
  4. How is the data being used?
  5. What are the risks associated with each piece of information?

Once you have answers to these questions, seek to define a policy or data management strategy that delivers end-to-end protection, maintains optimum performance for both back-up times and application performance, and governs data assets, regardless of whether the data is ‘in motion’ or ‘at rest’.

By centralising data management operations from a single platform approach, much of the complexity associated with data management strategy – such as effectively protecting, archiving, replicating, searching, and locating data – can be eliminated and the information lifecycle can be automated.

This siloed approach prevents a company from fully leveraging all its data assets and makes it difficult for the departments to operate cohesively, as these siloes increase an organisation’s exposure to the unknown, creating significant risks.

From our experience in assisting customers to successfully meet their data protection requirements, we have identified a set of core capabilities that enable companies to advance their data management strategy to be prepared for the future. The Principles of Modern Data Management is a “must have” checklist for organisations as they look to deal with challenges presented by emerging IT trends.

  1. Standards-Based Platform Access: Eliminates obsolescence and provider lock-in; protects the future of a customers’ technology relationships and mitigates risks to their infrastructure roadmaps.
  2. Integrated Data Security: Data is secure in transit, at rest, and during access; ensures secure communication during movement, storage and activation with encryption, key management and role-based controls for each technology persona with built-in audit controls and reports for compliance monitoring across all data locations.
  3. Direct Native Access: Data is available in its native format; native or on-demand data delivery services provide near-instant interactive access (recovery points) in the format requested by the application, resulting in reduced operational effort, time and risk.
  4. Extensible Search and Query: Index, analyse, visualise, and optimise data; activate and unlock live and historical data by providing seamless and powerful search query across multiple data solutions applications and storage locations, including virtual repositories, SaaS offerings, and cloud solutions.
  5. Universal Access & Collaboration: Securely share & sync across Apps, Files, Information; improve productivity and collaboration by giving users seamless, universal access to all copies of their data – no matter when and where it was created – and then enabling them to safely share data across users, applications, etc.
  6. Governance from Inception: Data is managed from when it is ‘born’; managing data from the moment of inception allows companies to have data under managed control – with visibility and security – significantly reducing the risk of breach, loss, theft or compliance failure.
  7. Incremental Change Capture: Increased frequency of recovery points drives storage and network efficiency; change block tracking opens opportunities to dramatically reduce workload impact during data protection operations while providing downstream efficiencies in network and storage utilisation – only reading and moving the delta blocks and only storing the unique changed blocks. This reduces bandwidth and storage requirements for ongoing recovery operations and speeds RPO and RTO.

According to the IDC Asia/Pacific Next Generation Data Management Survey that Commvault commissioned to understand the main data management drivers and challenges in this region, it was found that 40 percent of the 600 IT decision makers said that their information management strategy – which covers backup, recovery, data protection as well as analytics – is managed at a departmental level. Why do you think there is a lack of an enterprise-wide data management strategy in this region?

The way companies are organised or structured internally is the primary reason why data is being managed at a departmental level.

For example, many companies implement a myriad number of services for their digital strategy, covering aspects such as CRM, social media, website analytics, etc. As a result, information is gathered or stored within each service (customer information, analytical data, etc.), with no continuity or complete view across the company. Companies utilise more and more services for different aspects of their business, leading to more segmentation of data within these silos, with less interaction among them.

This siloed approach prevents a company from fully leveraging all its data assets and makes it difficult for the departments to operate cohesively, as these siloes increase an organisation’s exposure to the unknown, creating significant risks. Data that’s mined in disparate silos consequently undermines the quality of decisions made across the company, thus reducing both the security of corporate data and efficiency, driving up IT costs and burden.

It’s clear that digital has become so embedded in the way we work and live. Technology is a key driver to making that happen. What do you think CIOs need to do to recognise that they must go beyond delivering productivity and efficiency gains and start looking at how technology can become a catalytic agent for the business outcomes that organisations so desire?

CIOs need to put greater focus on innovation to harness technology and to gain a competitive advantage. They will also need to look at improving or simplifying IT infrastructure as well as focus on building better management tools in order to stay relevant.

Today, it is no longer enough for CIOs to simply deliver productivity and efficiency gains. Instead, they need to recognise that technology must be deeply weaved into the business and that IT needs to better focus on ROI-led initiatives, while ensuring the cost savings that are obtained are redirected to the innovation agenda. In order to achieve this, CIOs must learn to leverage information assets for competitive advantage, which again, needs a renewed focus on data governance over the management of the organisation’s most critical data. 

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Analytics chart photo courtesy Negativespace.co
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