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What’s really holding Australian organisations back from data innovation?

By Contributor
Thu 14 Apr 2022

Article by Cloudera A/NZ solutions engineering manager, Renee Dvir.

Data holds incredible power for Australian organisations to level up operations and hit their stride, regardless of their business goals or the unique challenges they're facing. 

Our recent research revealed that businesses with mature data strategies of more than a year saw higher annual profit growth of 5%. On top of this, 94% of senior decision-makers reported their organisation would experience even more revenue-paying opportunities if they could manage their data more effectively. And yet, despite these huge potential wins, many organisations are still struggling to overcome roadblocks and realise their data as an invaluable asset, not just a by-product of the organisation. 

Businesses throughout the country are all at different points of their data journey. Regardless, what we know without a doubt is that data must become a central force within a business, not just for IT, and that data strategies must be living and breathing, constantly evolving to take into account new information and technologies as well as shifts in the business environment.

Roadblocks and pain points: The truth of what's holding businesses back

When talking with people about their data transformation journey, there seem to be a few common challenges at play. Ultimately, Australian businesses are wanting data strategies that leverage the full data lifecycle while also taking advantage of advanced technologies like machine learning. They also want to avoid vendor lock-in, while creating a modern infrastructure that helps to build momentum on delivery, using data proactively within a hybrid data cloud environment instead of as a defence tool. 

While this reveals great awareness about the potential of data taking a business to the next level, there are also common data roadblocks within organisations that need addressing first.  

Many organisations are struggling to create a team with a shared data-driven mindset to enable better data extraction, accessibility and overall strategy. Despite a sophisticated level of awareness about big data, many leaders and businesses are still not capitalising on this, which highlights a lack of strong leadership and buy-in from teams across the board. To build culture and implement an effective data strategy, getting the whole organisation on board is key. Siloed data solutions or strategies designated to the IT team or one part of the company may result in much of the data being untapped and stagnant. 

In fact, a common pain point is that different business units often have isolated data solutions. This structure leads to complicated IT setups and a lack of centralisation and collaboration. It also gives users and IT teams complex and ongoing frustrations around upgrades and management. This touches on what our enterprise data cloud research discovered about data lifecycles. Only 12% of Australian IT decision-makers said that their organisations interact with all stages of the lifecycle process. Without full control and visibility over every aspect of data, organisations lack all they require to drive innovation, and employees from different teams can't fully make use of a company's data.

Overcoming roadblocks: creating a data culture and centralising infrastructure

Having an inspiring overall direction and communicating this openly across the organisation is key to building a data-driven culture. All employees should be aware of the data strategy, and all teams must understand its benefits and their role in delivering success for the organisation as a whole. 

Alongside leaders, appointing data champions throughout an organisation can help ensure that extracting and gaining insights from data is not 'just an IT problem'. As a result, more employees can understand how to access and utilise data. Where data flows, ideas follow, and having access to data is where we start making the impossible possible. 

Centralisation of data helps create a collaborative culture, however achieving this continues to be a challenge for many businesses. Our enterprise data cloud research found that 71% of Australian businesses haven't democratised access to centralised analytics tools and support. The majority (79%) haven't completely achieved having big data infrastructure that's centralised and integrated across the organisation. Without this centralised approach, it makes it challenging for business divisions or departments to work together.

Having one source of truth for data means implementing one integrated solution. Having a centralised source also makes it easier for teams to manage and access information. Often there is data being collected by business units that may also be useful to other teams, just in different ways. One of our insurance customers, for example, recently completed a data pull to resolve a regulatory compliance issue. However, they were able to also use that same data for a 360° customer view to gain valuable behaviour insights. They just took the same information that was already available, ran different queries and processes on it, and were able to use it in multiple ways.
 
Centralisation also makes governance and compliance easier, which is a very important aspect of any enterprise data strategy. Cloudera's multi-cloud hybrid vision has one governance methodology, no matter what level of security and where your data is stored. Our Shared Data Experience (SDX) solution is our common control - we can control all an organisation's data no matter where it is, also allowing policies for access to data. In this way, SDX enables democratisation while maintaining security and directly answers queries around how to avoid vendor lock-in without compromising security and governance.

Becoming data-driven now and into the future

Speaking with a group of data decision-makers recently, it's really encouraging to hear that many Australian businesses are actively exploring ways to create more powerful data-driven strategies within their organisation. However, there is still a way to go and a shift in mindset that needs to happen to create a data culture and mindset. By doing this, businesses can begin their own data journeys.

No matter how strong an initial data strategy is, it must always be evolving to maintain regulatory compliance and deliver against the changing needs of users, across every department within the company. If this approach is taken, businesses can begin to develop a virtuous cycle where more questions can be answered with data, and data is democratised and used collaboratively throughout the organisation.
 
Being able to cover the full data lifecycle and seeing data as a central asset to the business needs to happen today if companies are to become truly data-driven and successful tomorrow.

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