Proper Data Management Drives Business Success

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Read more about author Sonya Duffin.

Data Management used to be an enhancement to business operations. But as the datasphere continues to grow exponentially, it’s now a critical factor to business success. This is inclusive of data visibility, access controls, classification, compliance, and backups. Successful business leaders will recognize that the ability to manage their company’s data effectively has substantial financial and strategic implications.   

My company recently published a survey that examines the attitudes of IT leaders toward how their organizations approach Data Management. We found that Data Management has a significant impact on business performance and the ability to capitalize on new technology. Leaders need to be armed with data best practices to be competitive. Below are key findings from the research and implications for business leaders to consider as they assess their Data Management priorities. 

Poor Data Management Is More Than Just a Headache for the IT Team

Proper Data Management allows businesses to quickly leverage information and glean insights from analysis, streamline business functions, and feel confident in the security of proprietary information. Inefficient data practices and outdated systems make it challenging for IT teams to adequately protect and manage data, opening a company up to security risks. Poor Data Management impedes organizations from leveraging data, negatively impacting decision-making and performance. In fact, almost half of respondents (47%) reported that poor Data Management hinders their ability to make strategic decisions, and nearly a third (31%) said poor Data Management means they cannot compete effectively.  

To address these Data Management challenges, organizations should assess their data hygiene and align their strategies. These include a zero-trust posture, data lifecycle fundamentals like classification and tagging, and incorporating a 3-2-1 backup methodology that includes immutable storage. Starting from the ground up is the best way to address data inefficiencies and will result in meaningful outcomes when it comes time to analyze data for business decision-making.  

IT Leaders Are Optimistic About Generative AI – But There Are Barriers to Adoption

Organizations across industries are excited about generative artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs), and for good reason. Tools like Chat GPT-4 have the potential to transform business and revolutionize how employees do their jobs, so it’s no surprise that many people are enthusiastic about implementing them within their organizations. However, LLMs are only as good as the data on which they are trained. If an organization’s data isn’t properly sorted, tagged, and secured, the addition of LLMs will not be nearly as transformative as business leaders hope. Nearly half (45%) of IT leaders admitted that ineffective and inefficient Data Management means they can’t leverage emerging technology such as generative AI, which can put them at a competitive disadvantage. 

IT leaders must holistically assess the state of their data practices before implementing generative AI. Only 13% of respondents reported that Data Management initiatives are their number one priority, so it’s unsurprising that 77% of the average U.S. company’s data is redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT) or dark data. Nevertheless, many companies are working hard to get ROT under control so they can leverage AI effectively. These efforts are bearing fruit. Respondents in the latest research reported that their company’s data was, on average, 39% ROT and 38% dark data. This represents an improvement from our 2021 survey, in which respondents reported an average of 46% ROT and 41% dark data.  

Companies need to improve their Data Management strategies to make the most of AI and stay ahead of competition.Implementing strong Data Management practices is key for effectively deploying AI, maximizing ROI, and avoiding potential Data Governance and compliance complications.  

IT Leaders Are (Perhaps Overly) Confident in Their Data Protection 

A majority (71%) of respondents said they are extremely confident or very confident in their organization’s ability to protect their data despite a landscape of persistent ransomware threats and emerging technology. They are less confident, however, in their ability to recover data in the event of a complete data loss. In a 2020 survey, 33% of respondents reported that they would be able to recover 90% or more of their data, compared to only 22% of respondents in the most recent study. This decline in confidence is likely due to the growing prevalence and sophistication of ransomware attacks and the increasing volume and locations of data that organizations must manage across increasingly complex multi-cloud infrastructures.

Data loss due to a ransomware attack not only impedes business operations but also comes with reputational damage that can be difficult to recover from. An increasingly complex regulatory environment also requires companies to be responsive to cyberattacks or face legal repercussions. Ransomware resilience and data protection are critical components of an organization’s Data Management strategy. 

Businesses Need to Double Down on Data Management 

Unquestionably, data is the foundation of business success. Companies must critically evaluate their current Data Management and protection practices, invest appropriately in tools and talent, and establish AI-ready strategies to avoid falling behind competitors. The increasing pressure to maximize efficiencies and an evolving technology landscape will make it more challenging to stay competitive in the dawning business era. By addressing Data Management challenges now, IT and corporate leadership can work together to give their organizations the efficiency and competitive edge they need.