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Data strategy: paving the way to the cloud

Tue 31 Mar 2020 | Helena Schwenk

Data Strategy

Applying data effectively can mean the difference between success and failure for a business. Gathering data is one thing, but it is largely useless if insights aren’t being effectively drawn upon to make positive changes to an organisation

Businesses of all sizes, operating across every sector, are taking note. Chief data officers (CDOs) are now a frequent fixture at the executive table, and leaders recognise that it’s impossible to be a digital business without being data-driven.

As such, enterprises need a coherent data and analytics strategy that maximises what they can do with data and use it to its full potential. But where data analytics initiatives can fall down is where there is an over-emphasis on one aspect of a project such as what deployment model to make – whether it be cloud, on-premises or a hybrid approach.

Of course, this is an important consideration, but it shouldn’t come before the basics of developing a data strategy and data-driven culture. Prioritising deployment risks a disjointed approach to data, which can lead to disillusionment and the breaking down of trust among employees in business processes.

Agreeing and communicating an effective data strategy up front is a key step to success for any business. This step ensures that the whole organisation is involved in driving it forward. It is also critical to ensure that data is managed and used like an asset. The most effective data strategies are integrated from the get-go with the overall business strategy and establish common and repeatable methods, practices and processes to control and distribute data business-wide – headed up by a CDO. Thereafter, supporting a data strategy with technology is a powerful driving force for businesses to become more agile.

Open up data to every employee

If technology infrastructure is preventing organisations from opening up access to data across the business, then it is thwarting its ability to become data-driven. Employees at all levels of the business need access to data to make faster and better decisions and uncover new opportunities.

Democratising data gives employees across every business function access to customised up-to-date reporting on key business metrics relevant to their job, which empowers them and involves them more in the business.

This is where organisations should consider the benefits that the cloud can bring. A cloud model removes data silos and allows data to be shared at scale, securely and cost-effectively. In our recent report, Data strategy and culture: paving the way to the cloud, we surveyed 2,000 global data strategy decision-makers and found that 81 per cent of businesses with hybrid cloud models said employees at all levels are given sufficient access to data to improve decision making.

Choose the right deployment model

If we look at the full picture though, it’s not that simple, many decision-makers are feeling the weight of making data accessible across the workforce and being able to extract all the insights they require.

Almost four out of five respondents said current IT infrastructure makes it challenging to democratise data in their organisation. With additional barriers such as too many sources of data (25 per cent), a lack of relevant data skills (24 per cent) and performance limitations (21 per cent).

Technology limitations lead to challenges when it comes to accessing and integrating data – impacting growth and how people within the business feel about working with data. But business leaders can’t afford to bury their heads in the sand about this. We’re now operating in a real-time world where speed of data analysis is paramount. Once your data strategy is realised it’s time to consider the deployment model to ensure your infrastructure doesn’t hold you back and that data is easily accessible across the business.

The cloud is often considered an instrumental part of effective strategy, but it’s important to remember that it isn’t right for every business or every workload. Organisations need to carefully consider how they’ll need to evolve in the future and what business requirements they may have to keep some data on-premises. For example, an on-premises approach can work better for the likes of financial services and public sector organisations because they are highly regulated.

While workloads most suited for the cloud are the data warehouse, predictive/prescriptive analytics and data science. The cloud is also beneficial in order to react to future requirements and speed up the adoption of software and services.

In fact, 73 per cent of decision-makers we surveyed said that migrating data workloads to the cloud has had a positive impact regarding what they can do with their data – improving ease of access, shareability and faster query/response times.

Achieve true data excellence

Having flexibility is crucial and a hybrid cloud approach can really deliver for many organisations. Firms can manage sensitive workloads on-premises and use public cloud offerings to manage less critical information. This keeps costs under control and means greater agility to not only quickly adapt and change as a business evolves but also turn their data into value faster than ever before.

It can no longer be the case that just 32 per cent of data teams can always extract the insight they need. With a robust data strategy and deployment model in place, you should only be limited by the size of your strategic vision!

Experts featured:

Helena Schwenk

Market Intelligence Lead


Data Strategy hybrid cloud
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