Do You Want to Transform Your Business? You Need to Protect and Trust Your Data

By Richard L. Villars, Vice President, Datacenter & Cloud, IDC

Organizations around the world are talking about digital transformation (DX) and its implications for their employees; their customers, constituents, or patients; and their IT transformation (ITX) plans. For your organization, this conversation could just as easily be about data transformation. The most fundamental objective of any ITX effort must be enabling your entire organization to achieve maximum insight and return from all the data it generates, accesses, manages, and shares. The first step is to trust your data.

Looking for a clear proof point? In IDC’s November 2017 Global ITX Survey, those companies that are most aggressively pursuing ITX efforts are six times as likely to be using data-hungry integrated analytics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive technologies to enhance engagement with people and “smart” things. These companies also are taking the lead in establishing effective controls for the use of data to power digital business flows between organizations, people, and things without jeopardizing personal privacy, intellectual capital, or reputation. IDC calls this strategy “establishing data controls.”

What are data controls? The best way to understand the concept is with an analogy to internal controls, a critical part of any organization’s finance and business structure. Internal controls are the processes and practices put in place to assure achievement of an organization’s objectives for monitoring operational effectiveness and efficiency, ensuring reliable financial reporting, and complying with laws, regulations, and policies. Internal controls involve everything that minimizes financial risks for the organization. These controls also provide a trusted foundation for making decisions on how resources are directed, monitored, and measured.

Data controls are about applying similar processes and practices to data, the new currency at the heart of many DX efforts. These controls apply to all the data your organization generates and collects as well as what you get from your partners. They also cover all the data you distribute, analyze, and retain to meet compliance requirements. To secure your data environments and limit operational risk related to data, you need a data control strategy that addresses the following questions:

  • Do we always know what data we have and where it is?
  • How accessible is our data? Do we know who or what is accessing it? How easy is it to alter accessibility rules?
  • Is our data safe from loss, theft, or misuse?

If your organization doesn’t trust that your data is safe from loss or unacceptable periods of unavailability due to downtime or slow recovery processes, you can’t start thinking about DX. For the ITX leaders who are establishing data controls, the most common and fundamental initiatives revolve around making sure their data is safe by using modern data protection systems and practices.

In our Global ITX Survey, the data protection priorities of ITX leaders were to shrink data backup and recovery windows and to carry out these activities more frequently. More efficient handling of data replication and movement also yields a reduction in the number and cost of unplanned outages (ITX leaders reported a 75% reduction in the duration of outages and a 55% decline in their frequency) while increasing the efficiency of IT infrastructure, support, and security teams. These improvements translate into greater confidence by your organization in the reliability and availability of your data. Investments in modern data protection systems are also shoring up trust by reducing the frequency of security breaches and shortening the time required to remediate and recover from breaches if they do occur.

Data controls resemble internal controls in one other way. If your executives only think about internal controls as a means of preventing fraud and complying with laws and regulations, they are missing the point that systems of control also provide the foundation for a comprehensive improvement of organizational effectiveness and efficiency, two of the key goals driving DX.

The same holds true for investing in modern data protection. You can invest solely to make your data safer, but you can also use these same systems to build a scalable and trusted data control platform for creating and delivering the innovative, data-driven digital services that your customers, students, constituents, or patients will depend upon to make their businesses and lives better.

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Content sponsored by Dell EMC & Intel