Upgrading your data toolbox

Data can be a crucial factor in making business decisions but the results can be unsatisfying if you use the wrong tools to crunch the numbers.

The amount of data is growing at tremendous speed — inside and outside of companies’ firewalls. Last year we did hit approximately 1 zettabyte (one trillion gigabytes) of data in the public web, and the speed by which new data is created continues to accelerate, including unstructured data in the form of text, semi-structured data from M2M communication and structured data in transactional business applications.

Fortunately our technical capabilities to collect, store, analyse and distribute data has been growing at tremendous speed as well. Reports that used to run for many hours now complete within seconds using new solutions like SAP’s HANA or other tailored appliances.

Suddenly a whole new world of data becomes available to the CIO and his business peers, and the question is no longer if companies should expand their data/information management footprint and capabilities but rather how and where to start with.Forrester’s recent Strategic Planning Forrsights For CIOs data shows that 42 per cent of all companies are planning an information/data project in 2012, more than for any other application segment, including collaboration tools, CRM or ERP.

So CIOs today clearly understand the value of all this data — if it can be unlocked and delivered to the business in form of accurate, relevant and timely insights to improve business decisions. In the past, information management was mainly driven from a risk and compliance point of view: to get a clear overview of what is happening within the company and make sure it’s following certain regulations. Our Strategic Planning Forrsights data shows that today only 42 per cent of companies that are planning information/data projects are doing so because they want to improve compliance and risk management. The top driver, selected by 72 per cent of all respondents, was to make better-informed business decisions.

Unfortunately it is easy to get overwhelmed by today’s wide portfolio of information management tools and solutions and their fantastic capabilities advertised by their vendors. The sad truth is that only about 50 per cent of companies are satisfied today with the outcome of their projects to make better informed business decisions, while about 75 per cent are happy with their achievements regarding risk and compliance. Apparently there is a gap between expectations and the outcome of many data/information management projects today.

CIOs need to consider many different aspects for their data projects in order to select the right products, set the right processes and involve the right people. A successful data project is all about the three elements of products, processes and people. Most information/data projects are falling short today because there is too strong a focus on implementing nice, sophisticated analytic tools but too little effort on involving the right people (from business and IT) with executive sponsorship, and establishing the right information governance processes for sustainable success and continuous improvement.  

Holger Kisker serves tech industry Vendor Strategy Professionals in predicting and quantifying tech industry disruptions. He also writes for Forrester blog. You can see his profile here

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