Data is clearly the new oil in the age of digital process transformation, but as it turns out, much work still needs to be done before that data can be refined.

A survey of 200 CIOs conducted by ASG Technologies, a provider of information management tools, finds 66 percent of CIOs reported that only half of their organization’s assets are available digitally, and another 30 percent report that only three quarters of their data is available digitally.

The survey also finds that 70 percent of CIOs have deployed self-service data catalog or business intelligence (BI) tools to enable end users to leverage data. But the majority of those CIOs report that users still send almost three-quarters of their data requests to IT. Half those CIOs also wish they had better self-service tools to offer end users, which could cut data requests made to the internal IT team by as much as 50 percent. A full 85 percent of CIOs say they will increase investments in self-service tools, with 25 percent saying those investments will increase by 30 percent or more.

These days there are two macro trends driving organizations to invest in data management. Historically, the biggest driver has been compliance. The ASG survey finds 50 percent of CIOs say their data management initiatives are “all” or “mostly” focused on compliance and 53 percent report that, while they have made progress in managing personal data in compliance with security and regulations, they still have work to do in environments where compliance mandates are being more rigorous. In fact, the survey finds 35 percent of respondents reported that they will invest more in data governance in 2019, and 28 percent reported that they will invest more in data lineage.

But while compliance remains a major driver of investments in data management, it’s also clear CIOs are under more pressure to maximize the business value of the data they collect. In fact, the number one challenge cited by CIOs (30 percent) is extracting value from data efficiently, followed closely by maintaining compliance with various regulations (29 percent ), enabling broader data access (23 percent ), and gleaning valuable insights from data (18 percent).

Investing in data management

The report also finds that 86 percent of CIOs spend 11 to 15 hours a week on data management activities. The trouble is that many CIOs are not close enough to a business process to be able to glean useful insights from data. The reason organizations want to modernize their approach to data management is to enable business executives to make better decisions faster. That requires a significant investment in IT projects spanning everything from Big Data repositories to data visualization tools that enable end users to interrogate data without any intervention on the part of IT necessarily required. Longer term, those investments set the stage for embracing various forms of machine and deep learning algorithms that will surface recommendations based on patterns observed by the algorithms. Known as augmented analytics, there will come a day when the primary way end users will interact with these algorithms will be via a speech interface based on a natural language engine embedded in the application.

Managed service providers (MSPs) have an opportunity to both build and manage advanced data refineries. Truth be told, most organizations are not all that interested in how data gets processed. All they really want to be able to do is confidently act on the intelligence gleaned from that data. Ultimately, oil is not nearly as useful as the byproducts, such as gasoline, that are created from it. MSPs need to start moving towards becoming the entity that refines data on behalf of organizations that are a lot more interested in reliable results than they are in the IT technologies required to get them.

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Photo:  Thaiview / Shutterstock.

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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