The Importance of Data Activation

The Importance of Data Activation

Data is being put to work. Nearly every large enterprise is using data to increase revenue. But even so, value is being left on the table. According to a new report conducted by Wakefield Research and commissioned by WANdisco, 96% of data executives have used data to create new revenue streams, but only 20% are using all of their data; it grows too quickly for them to handle and gets trapped on premise and at the edge.

"Just bits and pieces of enterprise data are turning into tangible results. So can you imagine what would happen if every last data point was put to use? We wouldn't be talking about upticks in revenue, we'd be talking about entire industries getting flipped upside down," said David Richards, co-founder and CEO of WANdisco. "The blockers are clear, but if enterprises can start removing them, the effects could be startling."

The Data Activation Report surveyed 450 senior data leaders – Vice Presidents and above – at enterprises with at least 1,000 employees across the US, UK, and Germany. Respondents were asked about where they stand in their efforts to turn data into something actionable.

Key findings

  • Data is turning into dollars: 56% of data executives have identified several new revenue streams from their data, with 40% of them exceeding expectations.
  • Growth is outpacing analysis, slowing down ROI: 78% claim that data is growing faster than their ability to derive value from it; contributing factors include: lack of technical skills (43%) and poor or outdated data infrastructure (34%).
  • Data is siloed and trapped, rendering much of it useless: 80% don't use all of their data; 98% say data silos exist at their company, and 69% report data being trapped and unable to be fully used; contributing factors include: time required to move it (46%), risk of disruption (44%), and expense (44%).

Two in three (69%) agree that the inability to extract value from data and fully capitalize on it, fueled by inefficient infrastructure that can’t handle the data that’s piling up, is holding back their company’s digital transformation.

Data is underutilized because it is not getting to the cloud (45%), not being shared (41%), or is being siloed (41%). Once data gets to the cloud, there is more to be done. A majority of those at companies with unused data say private cloud is the biggest source of that unused data (59%) and nearly half say the same about public cloud (49%). 

In addition, for two in five (40%), ineffective AI/ML models and uncertainty on how to get value out of data (37%) are barriers, pointing to a potential skills gap among employees that’s hurting value creation. Having access to data in the cloud is a powerful resource for creating value, but only if paired with seamless data management technology to activate the data.

Many companies are still in the initial phases of their cloud journey

Companies have a long way to go to fully transition to the cloud — the first step in data activation. While around one in five say their unstructured data is in a single cloud platform (20%) or multi cloud (18%), the most common solution is hybrid cloud (44%), generally considered an early phase of cloud adoption.

Companies using hybrid cloud are more likely to cite a variety of struggles in their data activation efforts than those using cloud or multi cloud. Likely a result of these struggles, hybrid cloud companies are also more likely than cloud/multi cloud companies to see negative business consequences to data not being in the cloud. Further, cloud/multi cloud companies are more likely than hybrid cloud companies to indicate data-generated revenue streams are creating more revenue than planned.

Getting data to the cloud isn't enough to ensure activation

"To understand and act on your data, it has to be in the cloud. All the big companies are finding ways to get at least some of their data there, but it's not happening at scale. It's certain applications here and there, not every data point generated across the enterprise," Richards continued. "It's so early. We're just now starting to see companies chip away at these roadblocks and activate their data sitting on premise. The data-driven value generated to date is going to feel like a grain of sand compared to the beach we'll be sitting on in 10 years."

Data activation solutions position companies for future success

More than two in five data leaders (41%) cite identifying new revenue streams as an objective for getting value from their unstructured data. Even though a majority say much of the data at their company goes wasted, 96% still say they’ve been able to utilize their data to identify new revenue streams, including 56% who say they’ve created several, demonstrating the vast untapped potential of data as a revenue driver.

These new revenue streams aren’t letting their companies down. Almost four in five (77%) say the revenue streams created by the data generated as much (37%) or more (40%) revenue than expected, demonstrating that investments in data activation can yield positive results that fuel business growth.

Nearly half (45%) say data is the primary driver for most or all business decisions. And those at companies where data isn’t the de facto decision maker say it’s only a matter of time: the vast majority (84%) say data will become the primary driver of decision-making within five years, including 40% who predict within just two years.

See a full breakdown of the report findings and methodology.

Article published by icrunchdata
Image credit by Getty Images, Moment, d3sign
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