There’s an old story about two young fish who are swimming along and run into an older fish. The older fish says, “Morning boys. The water sure is nice today.” The younger fish swim on for a while, then one turns to the other and says, “What’s water?”
For businesses today, data is the water they are swimming in. It’s such a pervasive part of daily operations that there isn’t much thought given to how exactly the data is handled. Things are starting to change, though. As companies take a more strategic approach to technology, they are becoming more interested in using their data to understand the past and predict the future. At the same time, new tools are now available that allow people to analyze new types of data.
In these early days of thinking about data management as a corporate discipline, CompTIA has published a new research report examining the state of data practices. Here are four ways solutions providers can use this research to inform their businesses:
It’s a great time to start building a data practice.
Unlike a topic like cybersecurity, most businesses haven’t started thinking comprehensively about their data. While several large firms have a chief data officer, there is less history with that position than there is with a position like chief information security officer. Companies of all sizes are beginning to realize how critical it is to have a formal data approach. Only 25% of companies say they are exactly where they want to be with their data capabilities, down from 31% in 2015. There’s a good opportunity to fill the gaps that clients are discovering.
Businesses are open to third party data services.
One of the biggest gaps that clients will have in their data management is skills. As with cybersecurity, data management has a host of different aspects, which leads to the opportunity for many specializations. Since most firms can’t address all those needs internally, they will look for outside help. Only 27% of companies today are using third party resources for data operations. But 65% of those companies not currently using third party resources say that they are extremely likely or somewhat likely to consider a partnership in the next 12 months, potentially exploring assistance with everything from data storage to data analytics to data audits.
There is no shortage of challenges to tackle.
Looking at the hurdles in the way of building a data management strategy, the problems fall into a few different categories. There are technical issues, like speeding up data analysis or integrating data from across the company. There are workflow issues, like automating data processes or dealing with data regulations. And there are personnel issues related to skill gaps. Even without building services that specifically target data issues, solution providers can be aware of these data challenges and provide assistance with existing expertise.
Blockchain may become a choice for certain data applications.
The hype around blockchain has cooled a bit, as it does with all emerging trends at some point, but there is still a great deal of potential in digital ledger technologies (DLT). Tools that use DLT as the foundational data layer may not replace every instance of a database, but certain applications like digital identity and smart contracts are strong candidates for early DLT adoption. Staying familiar with the pros and cons of the technology will help solution providers advise their clients on the best uses.
Overall data management is not a primary topic in most IT circles… yet. If data truly is becoming the currency of digital business, then management of this asset will require as much focus as management of other critical resources. As the spotlight shines on individual data components—such as augmented analysis or natural language processing—it will be important for businesses to establish a foundational data practice, and technology firms are well positioned to help with this task.