I’ve been well known for commenting how odd I find the approach to Data by most companies. Unless you are a manufacturer all you really have is data. Your employees and your customers. Yet the approach to data – understanding it, using it, and protecting it hardly ever comes at the top of the appreciation list when it comes to creating strategy within Technology. For such an important asset, I struggle to see why this is so often low down on the priority list. How bad does it need to get to be a higher priority?
There has been a massive proliferation of data, and a surge in challenges of how to understand, utilise and protect it – and certainly IT choices have a large part to play in that, but it really should be data driving the choices, not conforming to them.
It’s great to know I’m not the only one that feels this way:
“Data and the cloud have become defining themes for the new era of IT. Data is the business’s key asset” – CIO
Taking a cloud stance doesn’t change the risks and challenges surrounding enterprise data management in and of itself. In fact, it can, more than likely will, create new ones. Developing a data-led strategy is therefore an essential must for all companies.
An ineffective or incomplete data strategy can make a company less agile or effective and compromise the positive impact of data-driven applications. What’s the point in making decisions around how to get work done faster and make you more agile for your customers with new digital applications etc, if you aren’t starting from the data that will create the value.
With Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) shift to it being the companies’ responsibility to not only protect their customer data, but to also demonstrate that they know where it is, and how it’s processed, changes the dynamic of where data should fall in the larger scheme of things. Knowing what data you have and where it’s located isn’t easy in any form, but whilst completing a transformation and having data across on-prem and potentially multiple clouds – that’s adding complexity and asking for disaster if it’s not planned in advance.
Financial and structural considerations are a must too. How do you store and replicate data in a cost-efficient way? How do you prevent the creation of new data silos, which will impact the benefits gained from products, and actually meeting your customers’ needs. Forward-looking considerations that take into account your longer-term business strategy and how that may require data to be moved around internally to best meet the value-creation (bundling products for example) have to be at the forefront of technical and architectural decisions now.
Most companies are now in an on-prem and Cloud hybrid situation and will be for several years – this adds complexity into how to protect corporate and customer data across on-premise and cloud resources, often multiple cloud services and infrastructures. How do you manage, monitor, and maintain those environments, whilst retaining visibility and control? How do you provide easy, flexible access without compromising security? Are your guardrails and policies transferable between environments? Is your network configured and supportive for data to move between them in line with business and customers’ needs in a way that is always secure and resilient?
It is very easy to focus on what companies can get out having their customers’ data and how they can benefit from using that data, but it is not always a balanced view – with how the customer can benefit being of equal importance. Open banking is a great example – many companies saw that as an opportunity to learn more about their customers so they could cross-sell and increase wallet share which in many cases comes across as hard-sell or pushing sales at customers. Those that have really understood the power of data, also get that it can be used to really uplift and simplify customers lives too – proactive notifications or reminders, additional service features like bill sharing can go a long way to showing you understand and care about the little things too.
When it comes to Cloud transformation and migrations, data often seems to be an after-thought not a key consideration, and that has been noticed by many of the large system integrators and CSPs. With many now advocating that migration strategies should be structured by data domains and not by applications at all to avoid further complicating what is already an un-structured estate from a data perspective. Is that a conversation you’ve had?
This is also an area that many companies seem to think they can re-use approaches done elsewhere, but just like everything else no companies are the same. The decisions made, the tech chosen, the design principles applied, the risk appetite embedded, the historical breaches and reputational considerations etc all require each company to assess its data approach uniquely. Do you really understand your current data footprint?
In this new Data Age, there will be two types of organizations: those that effectively leverage their data to monitor, secure, and drive the business, and those that don’t exist. – Forbes
New research undertaken by ESG involving 1,350 companies found that those that placed a strong strategic emphasis on data and its business value and making operationalising that a top IT priority achieved several key business and economic benefits:
For the 11% of companies that fell into the mature data use category (i.e. getting the above benefits) they had these things in common:
Do you recognise these as traits of your company? Have you reviewed your estate not by application but by data type, source, domain etc? Do you have a complete current state view? Do you have the experience and knowledge in your teams to factor all things data into the decisions you take around how you adopt and utilise Cloud?
Broadstones works hard with its clients to really get under the skin to appreciate the nuances of that make the company what it is – the culture, the historical decisions, the forward strategy – applying industry principles in tailored-for-you ways. If you’re struggling to be able to step-back and assess your data footprint and how that needs to be factored into your Cloud approach – then we can step in to help provide an objective, independent, competent and respectful view on where you are and what your next best step is.