It’s All About The Data

The past few weeks I’ve been thinking about data. Where’s he going with this, you ask? I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of customers over the past 3-4 weeks and as well as attended IBM interConnect 2017 in Las Vegas. This all reminded me more and more about data. How to access it, how to protect it, who is using it, how to use it as an advantage, and what happens when you don’t have it. What does it mean? Allow me to step up on my soapbox this month and I’ll tell you. But the bottom line is (as my title this month proclaims) it’s all about the data.

As I’ve been out visiting and talking to our customers and new potential customers this past month, I keep being reminded what all this IT that we do and talk about is really about: data. We have infrastructures that run our IT environments, to house our applications that help us generate and manage data. Data in some fashion is the result in all cases. All of it is just tools to help us around our data. This is the same regardless of the type of industry you’re in. I’ve talked and met with healthcare institutions, media companies, financial institutions, insurance companies, retail firms, manufacturers, and others. In the end it all somehow comes back to data in some way.

When I was at IBM InterConnect, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty drove this home when she talked about data in her keynote address. She talked about how you need a strong enterprise to support your initiatives, focus upon your data first and then using your data in cognitive ways.

This reminded and reinforced what we have been seeing within our customers:

A strong enterprise infrastructure is so important to success today. Be that public cloud, private cloud, or a hybrid approach, your environment must be there to support your business needs in any and all situations.
Focusing up on your data and all else follows. Your infrastructure, all your applications, and your client/customer experiences should be looked at through the prism of your data. Your security (even more critical if data is off premise), protection for DR/BC, and your applications are all about your data.
Your data is your crown jewel. It needs to be protected all costs, but it also should not be shared with the world just for the sake of sharing. Your data is your key to providing your firm with a competitive advantage. Mining that data, doing insights and modeling, and applying cognitive capabilities (Ms. Rometty’s words) around your data must give you leverage into abilities that just years ago, were never even possible. That’s your differentiator. Use this data to not just to look at what you did, but how and what you should do going forward and how you should do it. That is the next wave of IT: how to use our data to not just make us better, but to exponentially make us better.

Since it’s all about that data and how important it is to us, do we have the proper safeguards in place that ensure it’s not being accessed by those who shouldn’t? We have a responsibility to know who has access to data, to files and folders and to know what they doing with it. In today’s regulated environments, it’s critical. Even if you are not in a regulated industry, you still need to know to help prevent abuse, theft of credentials, and ransomware; all of which unfortunately are a reality within the IT world today. Having a strong strategy, a methodology and solutions for how to address this is not just a good idea, but a necessity. All too often when do we see firms addressing this? After they experience an issue or breach.

The message this month is to focus upon the data and then let everything follow from there. It seems so obvious, and I know we all believe we are doing just that, but it’s worth continually revisiting to make sure. Especially today as more and more data is created than ever before, so we do live in unprecedented times. And this will only be exacerbated as time goes on and will get hard to manage, not easier. So, let’s all get a handle on it now. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in; this applies to all of us. Some are more high profile and regulated than others (financial, healthcare, etc.), but if we make, access, use and manipulate data in some way (which is all of us) we are all affected.

“It’s all about the data” has always been at the forefront of our approach and engagement, but it became even more clearer to me this month. None of us can afford to overlook or think that it doesn’t apply to us, because it does. So, it’s all about the data? You bet.

Andy Jonak
ajonak@vicomnet.com