It’s the data world we live in

Data overload

In a world where more data is being created than we can shake a stick at (around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day), it’s no wonder that we’ve reached tipping point. Worryingly, many organisations are ill-equipped to deal with the vast amount of data they hold. They have large, fractured landscapes with multiple old legacy systems that don’t communicate with each other, and as more and more data is being collated, there is increased pressure to use it as a key asset to make critical business decisions.

The financial impact of this mis-management is clear when you look at recent events. The likes of British Airways and Marriott being fined £183m and £99m respectively for data breaches is not something that should be ignored. The organisations need to create better internal processes and have data governance at top of mind in leadership discussions.

It’s not all doom and gloom

At least the government have seen the light. A new NAO report brings to light the challenges they’re facing in using data and with the introduction of a new national data strategy in 2020, the aim is to position “the UK as a global leader on data, working collaboratively and openly across government.”

What this means for public sector organisations may not quite be clear yet, but it’s highly likely that it will bring stricter rules on data submissions, something the higher education system is already facing with HESA data futures on the horizon.

With the UK moving forward on this initiative, the hope is that start paving the road for other countries to follow.

The way forward

Two key steps in creating an effective data strategy is to first of all understand what data you have; which systems it sits in, how it flows through the organisation and importantly, who is accountable for it. Secondly, you must also ensure the quality of your data is up to scratch and meeting your business needs and requirements. You wouldn’t put cheap sub-standard fuel into a high-performance car and expect it to do its best lap, so neither should you expect to achieve optimum business outputs with poor quality data.

The IDC estimates that by 2025, global digital information will have grown to 175 zettabytes. Trying to fathom how much data this means, we need a comparison. IDC’s David Reinsel provides us with a good imagery: “If one were able to store 175ZB onto BluRay discs, then you’d have a stack of discs that can get you to the moon — 23 times, [and] even if you could download 175ZB on today’s largest hard drive, it would take 12.5 billion drives.” That’s a lot of data! So let’s hope by 2025 we all understand the importance of good data management otherwise who knows what might happen!

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