The High Costs of Unused Apps, Lack of Data Governance

Loraine Lawson

Here's an interesting bit of information: It seems 81 percent-approximately eight out of 10-of European IT professionals queried in a recent survey say their networks hold unused applications. This costs money, of course, among other things.


What's more, 91 percent say these dormant apps have data associated with them sitting on the corporate network.


Here's the rub: Forty-six percent of respondents say those unused apps won't be removed because the data inside might be needed at a later date, with 26 percent specifically citing compliance or regulatory concerns.


Informatica commissioned Dynamic Markets to conduct the survey of 300 sales and marketing managers, plus 301 IT workers. It must be thrilled with those results. Just reading the results of the survey is nearly enough to send you data management shopping. Check out some of these findings:


  • How long have these apps and data sat unused? Seventy-five percent of IT workers say some apps have been sitting on corporate networks, gathering e-dust, for three years. Among those organizations, unused applications represented on average a quarter of the total number of apps on the system.
  • What's this costing companies? There wasn't an average cost, but in some cases the survey estimated annual expenses amounted to more than 2 million, or approximately $2.8 million.


That's without discussing the findings about business users sidestepping IT or the revelations that 32 percent of companies give all employees access and amendment rights to a range of corporate databases. Does anyone doubt this lack of data governance will cause problems down the road?


As you might expect, Informatica had something to say about all this insanity. In the press release announcing the survey results, Mark Seager, EMEA vice president of technology at Informatica, said:


Through chaotic and inconsistent approaches to how data is managed across the enterprise, companies increasingly have to "mind the data gap." This has an obvious impact on businesses' ability to utilize what is arguably their most valued asset. If data exists ad hoc across the enterprise, but organizations can't integrate it in order to generate a single view of their customers, then they're missing out on significant market and revenue growth opportunities.


I'd love to see a similar survey done in the U.S., because, frankly, I'm curious as to whether this is some sort of regional crazy or if it's a worldwide epidemic of bad data and application lifecycle management.


I also can't help but wonder how unused applications might impact other data-related initiatives, such as master data management. Incidentally, the market for customer and product hubs, plus related MDM services, is now expected to reach a whopping $2 billion within two years, according to research from the MDM Institute.


MDM Institute Chief Research Officer Aaron Zornes identified key MDM drivers in 2011 as provisioning "substantive amounts of master data governance;" partnering with faithful service providers; and betting on a mostly-proven or likely favorite MDM solution. One of the key drivers for that spending will be providing master data governance. This proves that, once again, the lessons of the past are often ignored. Governance is left to last, at great cost to all.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 7, 2010 11:29 AM Dave Dave  says:

Data governance has to start in the IT Depaprtment.  I work for an organization that has a CEO with very little understanding of data management, yet all rules regarding how data is handled come from that same manager.  Therefore, there are too many people with too much access to information in databases.  Anyone can make a change to the data.  Security on the network is a joke if there is no data governance.  All the antivirus software on the planet won't protect us from ourselves.  We have all the makings of an excellent system, with most of the pieces already in place.  But we are told that if we make access to data "too complicated" we will aslow down the flow of work and cost he company money.  If this is the case, we need to close for a year while all the employees go back to school.  This is a case where management assumes everyone is stupid.  God, I hope they're wrong.

Oct 8, 2010 8:59 AM Chris Jackson Chris Jackson  says:

Loraine-This lifts the lid on a serious issue around data governance.  Many organisations genuinely don't know what data they hold or where they hold it, and have no means of discussing it across the organisation.  These are prerequisites to tidying up the mess.

An early stage of many of our governance engagements is the high-level conceptual modelling of the whole organisation's data, typically in 80-100 agreed concepts.  This has a number of benefits, but a key one is that it provides a level at which we can map data to systems, without getting bogged down in the detailed reasons why each application was unique and necessary in its day.  We deliberately start with a generic subject area model of 7-12 elements which is not based on existing systems or functions, but cuts across them.  (Subject area models' which are based on current system or functional boundaries start you down paths which, as you drill into more detail, simply replicate and justify the existing mess.)

It may well be that some of these pockets of unused' data need to be allowed to survive with the applications to access them, because this is more cost-effective than major data migration exercises.  But if you start at the grinding detail of each one, the investigative efforts with their low rewards are liable to falter and die.  Starting from the top will have a lot more impact.

Oct 11, 2010 2:08 AM AnnMaria AnnMaria  says: in response to Chris Jackson

I can GUARANTEE you this goes on in the U.S. I have often seen it in organizations that decided to save money by not replacing technical people who retired or left for higher-paying jobs. They hired someone with the minimal skills to do the daily work. Those annual, quarterly or exceptional jobs did not get run because no one knew how. Or, maybe some applications were not needed any more but because the new, "entry-level" employees did not know what those did, everyone was afraid to delete anything for the exact reason stated, they might need these later, whatever "these" turned out to be. I found it all very amusing, but, of course, I have a wicked sense of humor.


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