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The strain that IT organizations are under as they try to support ever increasing amounts of data using antiquated IT infrastructure is starting to show. A survey of 230 IT professionals conducted by Syncsort, a provider of tools for managing Big Data, identifies the top challenges faced by IT teams as skills/staff shortage (38 percent), followed by data governance (33 percent), making data more accessible (33 percent), keeping data current (30 percent), and budget constraints (30 percent).

The bigger issue is the degree to which organizations are struggling to justify the investments they are making to manage all the data they are collecting. The Syncsort survey finds only nine percent of respondents described their organization as being “Very Effective” at getting value from data. Another 48 percent said they are “Somewhat Effective.” That would suggest the remaining 43 percent either are not effective or simply don’t know. Only half of the respondents said their organization was either “Very Effective” or “Somewhat Effective” when it comes to providing data insights to business users.

Obstacles to investment

It’s difficult to get business leaders to invest in something they don’t see a lot of value in. The sad truth is that far too many organizations still treat data more as a burden rather than a strategic asset that needs to be exploited.

There’s a lot of talk about data becoming the “new oil.” Still, very few organizations have any practical way for turning that oil into something that really fuels the business. In fact, many business leaders can’t quite put a finger on the precise reason they are frustrated with IT. All they know is that a significant portion of the organization’s budget is being consumed by something that doesn’t provide a lot of differentiated value to the business.

How MSPs can change that equation

Organizations can try to reduce the cost of IT or they can commit to deriving more value from those investments. Unfortunately, many organizations put a heavier amount of focus on the former over the latter. The Syncsort survey identifies the top IT initiatives being made as cloud/hybrid cloud computing (46 percent), modernizing infrastructure (38 percent) and data governance (32 percent), and advanced/predictive analytics (25 percent).

This suggests that only a quarter of IT organizations are trying to derive more value from data they collect. As disappointing as that might be, it does create an opportunity for managed service providers (MSPs) to better segment their customer base.

Organizations that are investing in analytics clearly value data a lot more than those that don’t. MSPs can have a completely different conversation about the role they can play in advancing that analytics goal than they can with an organization that is primarily focused on reducing the cost of IT. That’s not to say an MSP should ignore an organization that is primarily motivated by reducing costs. For the most part, organizations that are investing in analytics will value the services of an MSP far more than organizations that still view data mostly as a chore that they’d rather find someone else to do for less.

Any time an MSP engages a customer they find out right away to what degree that customer is investing in analytics. Depending on the answer to that question, a savvy MSP will have a very good idea how the relationship with that client is going to evolve from there.

Photo: Raw Pixel / Shutterstock

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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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