Lifting the Lid on Data Paradoxes in Business, At a Glance

Your time is precious. Not sure if the latest study exploring data paradoxes in business is for you? Then read the executive summary here first.

By Sara Downey, Thought Leadership, Dell Technologies

Twentieth-century poet Fernando Pessoa once said, “Life is full of paradoxes as roses are of thorns.” Paradoxes are certainly ubiquitous in life and, most often than not, unwelcome.

A Forrester Consulting study, commissioned by Dell Technologies, reveals data paradoxes are constraining businesses around the world.

We see this in what data represents for many businesses: It can be both a blessing and a curse. For instance, in terms of the latter, businesses need more data on the one hand—on the other, they’re gathering data faster than they can analyze and use.

Forrester’s seminal study, “Unveiling Data Challenges Afflicting Businesses Around the World,” based on a survey with 1,635 senior decision-makers with responsibility for data in their organizations, is an illuminating read. To whet your appetite, we’ve published the executive summary in full below.

We believe this is an important body of work for two reasons. Firstly, we’re living in the data decade and operating in an on-demand economy. The volume, variety, and velocity of data will only increase exponentially. Businesses need to be prepared to better capture, analyze, and act on data because their competition certainly will. Secondly, paradoxes are eminently solvable. They can be remedied with sufficient awareness and agency.

Forrester Study: “Unveiling Data Challenges Afflicting Businesses Around the World”

Executive Summary

Firms today are generating, demanding, and collecting more data than ever before, but overwhelmed data teams are struggling to analyze and secure that data. Even so, those same data teams are constantly demanding more data. This has created a problematic paradox: Companies that don’t treat data as a new power source or the lifeblood of the business are destined to fail in their pursuit to become a data-anywhere business.

Data strategy decision-makers are hitting roadblocks as they try to navigate the deluge of data and align their cultural and technological readiness. Our study found that 87 percent of data strategists across the world are neglecting either their technology and processes or culture and skills—or both.

Approximately one-third say their businesses are taking an unbalanced approach to improving their data readiness by either focusing too much on their culture and forgetting the technology or vice versa. Just a niche 13 percent of decision-makers report their firms have struck the right balance; we call these firms “Data Champions.”

Firms need a better way to manage data and address this contradiction.

In an as-a-service economy, in which businesses typically charge for services per use and pivot quickly, moving to an on-demand IT model is the best route to becoming an innovative, data-driven enterprise.

Dell commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the state of readiness for the continued influx of data. Forrester conducted an online survey with 1,635 respondents from 17 locations with director or higher titles who are responsible for data strategies and digital transformation at small firms to large global enterprises.

Key Findings
  • Firms continue to be overwhelmed by data. Over the past three years, at least 60 percent of decision-makers have seen an increase in the amount of data they collect and generate; 75 percent say demand for data has increased during this time. Some firms are seeing these data vectors double—if not triple—leaving them with a lot of data that they cannot analyze and use fast enough. This has created myriad security and compliance risks and overwhelmed data teams.
  • Firms are struggling to get value from the data that they have, yet they still want more. Digital transformation efforts are increasing data strategy decision-makers’ thirst for data, but they’re struggling to make more data available for analysis or ensure that available data is known and used. Seventy-one percent of data decision-makers are gathering data faster than they can analyze and use it, but 66 percent say they constantly need more data than their current capabilities provide.
  • Adopting a data-as-a-service model will relieve the pain caused by the data paradox. Sixty percent of decision-makers expect to move to a data-as-a-service model in the next one to three years. Today, only 20 percent say their firms have transitioned to an as-a-service model for most of their applications and infrastructure. Shifting to an as-a-service model offers key benefits, suchas easier data movement, better data management through a single access point, and faster time to action.

To find out more, read the full Forrester Thought Leadership Paper here.