Why is digital transformation often unsuccessful? More often than not, companies fail to understand the changing nature of their data in today’s digital and cloud age. When speaking with 1,200 IT executives and personnel recently, we found there was a disparity when it comes to the readiness of a company’s IT department to action its proposed digital transformation strategy.

For organisations today, data is no longer a burden, it’s an asset – and it must be managed that way. Companies that want to succeed in the digital age must understand the value of data to their business, then they must focus on knowing their data, so that they can use and protect it.
 

Getting to know your data: The evolution of secondary data

A good place to start, is often at the back end. For every terabyte (TB) of data found at the front end of a given system, there are believed to be at least two TBs of back-end copy.
 
Historically, this secondary data was a financial strain on companies, used purely for backup, recovery and compliance purposes. The hardware and software costs involved in creating and managing regular updates were significant – making many businesses perceive secondary data as a burden.

However, in the 2000s and 2010s companies realised they could use this dormant secondary data. They realised that they could use data from a wide variety of sources – like their customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, alongside HR, marketing, and customer care information.

In addition, businesses explored how secondary data could be put in a read-only mode and analytics run against it without putting active, primary data at risk.
 
The result? A better view of customers and prospective customers, enabling companies to more effectively target their marketing and sales efforts and bring in more revenue per customer. More recently, we have seen the arrival of data-centric companies whose data is their main asset – it’s what the entire company’s value proposition is based on.
 

The digital transformation journey starts here

While many companies are still adapting to the disruption of data-centric business, existing tomorrow is dependent on first knowing your data, so that you can go on to then protect it, and finally use it.

Without this, the process of digital transformation will continue to be a frustration rather than a process that delivers success. So where do you start? Consider some of these key questions:

Where is your data? 

The answer to this question used to be easy because data resided on your ERP or other desktop software. But now companies have many TBs of data from myriad applications and devices, created and accessed by users from everywhere.

Some data might be onsite, some might be on laptops, some might be in the cloud. Some data might even be on an Internet of Things device inside a mine or on an aircraft engine. Knowing your data starts with knowing where it is.

Who is responsible for your data? 

There needs to be one person or team in the organisation who knows where all that data is and who can access it quickly when necessary.

How safe is your data? 

Most security systems are set up to work with legacy desktop software that was designed back when all data was stored in-house.

Of course, that’s simply not enough for the cloud-based age. Legacy software is not equipped to protect data collected by Software as a Service applications and stored in the cloud, or data from outside sources that the company accesses.

How agile is your data? 

Can you move it to where it needs to be in real time? Because that’s what it takes to actually use your data the way data-centric companies do – you can’t be running to the basement to retrieve a digital tape every time you want to analyse your data.
 

A future of digitally transformed architecture

Across the globe, digital transformation is taking place in every vertical and industry. So why are many data strategies still siloed and archaic?

Data technologies need to move with the times and support digitally transformed businesses by providing digitally transformed data architecture. Legacy architecture simply won’t work for modern data anymore.
 
What does this new digitally transformed architecture look like? Companies need a data management platform that’s cloud-independent and platform-independent with the ability to access data wherever it is and move it from layer to layer.

Of course, putting your data on a higher-performance secondary platform is a costlier exercise than simply backing it up and leaving it there, but it makes the data usable so you can start to reap the benefits of your company’s greatest asset.
 
It’s no longer enough to keep your secondary data in dusty files in a basement somewhere. It should be a living, breathing, profit-driving part of any modern company. Adopting an effective data management platform is your chance to join the digital transformation revolution today.