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A global survey of 2,362 executives working for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) suggests there is a much greater appreciation for the value of data among organizations that have historically tended not to invest as heavily in tools and platforms that maximize the business value of the data collected.

Conducted by S&P Market Intelligence 451 Research on behalf of Amazon Web Services (AWS), 19 percent report that nearly all decisions being made are heavily data-driven, with another 54 percent reporting that business decisions are mostly data-driven.

More than twice the percentage (69 percent) of highly data-driven organizations reported having a modern comprehensive data strategy. That compared to those that are less data-driven (28 percent), the survey finds.

Data-driven disparity

In North America, the majority of highly data-driven (74 percent) companies are among the highest level of data strategy maturity, more than twice the percentage of less data-driven companies (35 percent). The survey also notes that in North America, 92 percent of highly data-driven companies invested in technology, followed by people (72 percent) and process (71 percent). Less data-driven companies (73 percent) where almost 20 percent less invested in technology, people (65 percent), and processes (56 percent).

Additionally, the survey finds highly data-driven SMBs in North America are either currently using or piloting artificial intelligence (AI) for customer satisfaction/experience (74 percent), IT operations and cybersecurity (62 percent), operations and finance (60 percent), content creation and data analysis (60 percent), supply chain optimization (48 percent), workforce, human resources and legal (46 percent) and marketing and advertising (45 percent).

Overall, the survey also finds among organizations that are highly data-driven companies, 65 percent reported “significantly” or “moderately” financially outperforming their peers. In contrast, only 33 percent of less data-driven companies reported being able to make the same claim.

Understanding data dependency: A crucial test for MSPs

Savvy managed service providers (MSPs) realize that the more an organization values data the more likely they are to rely on external expertise in part or in full to help them manage, secure, and protect it. MSPs should have a litmus test in place to ascertain just how critical data is for the customer’s business model. Organizations that are highly dependent on data being always available are going to be that much more likely to pay a premium to ensure their data is safe and secure than, for example, a business that might be able to continue to function if their data was for some reason was unavailable for a short period time.

There is no longer any absolute correlation between the size of a company and the amount of data. However, it’s still fair to say the average SMB doesn’t have the same amount of data to manage as a large enterprise. It’s also fair to say that being offline can be more catastrophic for an SMB than a large enterprise that typically has deeper financial pockets. MSPs need to appreciate the fact that in the event of an incident, an SMB customer might not be able to pay its bills unless assistance is provided in the timeliest way possible.

The challenge and the opportunity for MSPs, as always, is finding a way to strike a balance. One between what defines a premium service versus an existing level of service that an MSP has a vested interest in providing promptly if they want that customer to remain viable enough to continue to need their services. Otherwise, the MSP will find that the only thing harder than collecting monies owed is finding a new customer capable of generating the same or greater amount of revenue.

Photo: StunningArt / 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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