The Challenges of Gaining Useful Insight into Data

    Data is growing at an exponential rate and has been for quite some time. While most IT and business professionals would agree that accessing and managing unstructured data would provide great benefit to an organization, actually extracting useful insights can be a daunting task.

    Sonian, a pioneer in cloud-based archiving, recently conducted a survey of IT professionals across a wide range of industries to gather intelligence on data management and, more specifically, the challenges around gaining useful or actionable insight from the ever-growing volume of business data. The following slides provide a glimpse into how executives are thinking about their data, or should be.

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    Data Management Insights

    Click through for highlights from a data management survey conducted by Sonian.

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    A Wealth of Untapped Information

    A staggering 75 percent of respondents reported that their business data is loaded with valuable information of which they admit they aren’t aware, let alone acting upon. In fact, only 2 percent disagreed that there is valuable information in their business data of which they aren’t aware. This is an important statistic because it shows just how much information is going to waste due to the inability to easily access certain data.

    In order to avoid this and fully leverage business data, many companies are using third-party cloud archiving to preserve, retrieve and then act on the intellectual property sent and stored in emails, instant messages and file attachments. The primary advantage of the cloud archive is fast and accurate search. Indexing messages and attachments and then searching that index separates archiving from typical backup solutions and enables companies to quickly respond to audits, discovery requests and other internal investigations.

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    Better Insights, Better Decisions

    Respondents were split down the middle on the idea of better insights into data leading to better decision making. Almost 30 percent agreed with the idea and nearly 17 percent strongly agreed. This means about half of the respondents concede that shining a light on their dark business data would help drive better decision-making. But what jumps out is that about half of the respondents are neutral on the value of illuminating the value that they think is locked in these unstructured data.

    In today’s business climate, whether you’re the CEO, IT administrator or a human resources manager, it’s critical to be able to securely store, quickly retrieve and easily review data to make better decisions across the organization. Only a tiny percentage of respondents disagree that data insight can drive smarter business decisions.

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    Struggling to Make Sense of Data

    For years, executives and IT administrators have been struggling to address the growing impact of this modern “data explosion.” An overwhelming amount of respondents (nearly 75 percent) agreed that they struggle with making sense of their data, while less than 2 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

    User-generated data from email, file attachments, instant messages, videos and pictures are examples of the many different types of data that businesses are trying to store, access and leverage. On top of that, there is an even larger volume of data that is machine- and sensor-generated. The future for progressive businesses is clearly in making more sense of the data under management and deriving insights out of these millions of records that might provide certain businesses an advantage.

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    Data Visualization

    Business stakeholders are seeking easier ways to review and take action on their data, and for many, spreadsheets are doing that job adequately, but it seems that a significant percentage are looking for a more intuitive interface. More than 40 percent of respondents say they would prefer a more visually appealing interface from which to conduct their analysis. Based on the speed of modern business and the amount of data continually being generated, the need for meaningful and speedy insight seems likely to increase.

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    Analytic Tools

    More than 90 percent of respondents agreed that a tool that could parse and present information in an appealing, easy to use way could provide a more intuitive view of business data. Again, it’s clear that insight into data via fast and easy visual analytics is highly desirable for a range of business stakeholders.

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    Proactive Risk Alerts

    When it comes to preserving business data, protecting IP and mitigating risk, businesses are clearly seeking a proactive solution, which they should be. Nearly three-quarters of respondents strongly agreed that a system that flags potential issues for review would be a big step forward for most data managers. Running searches and setting throttles is a reactive approach, but if there was a system that could proactively “push” potential problems into a review queue or generate warnings, that is something that most would find attractive.

    Knowing sooner is always better than finding out later.

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    Actionable Data

    Business data respondents would like to make a wide range of data actionable, ranging from emails and employee personnel files to Dropbox and instant messages. Employee-managed data is at the top of the list – getting some access or insight into the files that employees are storing locally or on network file shares seems a paramount concern for respondents. Email, perhaps the most popular and pervasive productivity platform in the workplace, is also near the top of the list.

    Data is really only valuable if you can translate it into an actionable plan. Through the survey, it’s clear that employers prefer something be done with data, even if they aren’t quite sure what that ‘something’ is. This is why it is so important to be able to manage data and archive it in the correct way.

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