Here’s why businesses desperately need to give their data the Marie Kondo treatment

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Richard Gerdis, GM & VP Sales, APJ, Delphix

Japanese tidiness guru Marie Kondo has shown the world how decluttering has the potential to bring joy and improve mental wellbeing to people who have become overwhelmed by the emotional weight of their belongings.

In today’s business world, the greatest source of clutter is undoubtedly information. With more data being collected and used than ever before, keeping digital clutter to a minimum by making sure data is properly organised and well managed has become perhaps the single most important factor in the long-term survival of businesses today.

However, this can be notoriously difficult to achieve.

In December last year, analytics firm Gartner revealed research suggesting that 87 percent of organisations are classified as having low business intelligence and analytics maturity.[1]

What does this mean? Essentially, Gartner splits businesses with low maturity between those that rely on “spreadsheet-based analyses and personal data extracts” for business intelligence and those that lack leadership and central guidance for data and analytics initiatives.

If Gartner’s research is accurate, the vast majority of organisations out there don’t appear to have an overarching and technology-driven regime to properly analyse data for actionable insights.

This probably shouldn’t come as a huge shock. Given the exploding volumes of data organisations need to work with just to remain competitive, making sense of that data is becoming increasingly difficult while also becoming increasingly important.

Today, every company is a data company – or, at least should be. How else can an organisation hope to remain relevant over the long-term? And yet, most companies are yet to attain any kind of mastery over their data assets.

This could be why Gartner recommends, among other things, that organisations wanting to to evolve their capabilities for greater business impact should develop holistic data and analytics strategies with a clear vision while also implementing a data governance program.

It’s true: managing data effectively and efficiently is a vital element for businesses in the current industry climate if they want to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Good data used well can improve efficiencies, drive innovation and dramatically expedite the development of new products and services.

But good data is hard to come by, as is the ability to use it well. Without the right systems and processes in place to make data useful and accessible by those in the organisation that need it to drive innovation and improve efficiencies, it can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Why? Because unstructured, unusable data is clutter. And, as most of us know, clutter of any kind can be distracting at the very least, and downright debilitating at the extreme. In the world of business, data clutter can make it difficult for teams to make sense of, or work with, potentially valuable information assets.

Here’s where the world of business can learn a thing or two from world’s leading decluttering expert. Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering personal and household possessions revolves around tidying things by category while prioritising the items that bring joy.

Most importantly, Kondo has demonstrated time and again how the simple act of decluttering can help to improve the mental wellbeing of people by helping them properly manage and make sense of their domestic worlds.

The best part is that, according to Kondo’s teachings, if people properly simplify and organise their home once, they’ll never have to do it again.

Just as householders can use Kondo’s clever tidying techniques to make sense of their domestic worlds and improve mental wellbeing, organisations also have the ability to clean up their data and improve their long-term wellbeing and survival.

How? A sound data strategy and the right technology to back it up

One of the top technology options that can help make sense of the typically large amounts of data that are increasingly essential to a competitive business posture is data virtualization. This removes all the data ‘clutter’ from an organisation’s own systems and infrastructure by keeping it in the cloud.

Contrary to the conventional perceived wisdom, keeping data in the cloud rather than on legacy internal infrastructure has the potential to make it easier to access and use by authorised personnel while also keeping it more secure than is frequently the case in on-premises hosting scenarios.

Most importantly, with the appropriate underlying data management software, the cloud has the potential to make data management far more efficient, enabling multi-team collaboration the analytics capabilities to deliver unprecedented insight.

Echoing Kondo’s mission to declutter and put things that bring joy neatly in their own carefully considered place, the cloud-based tools available today for businesses to declutter their data offer new ways for information to be thoughtfully stored, organised and efficiently managed.

Ultimately, tidying up data and better organising it in the cloud helps to free up the flow of information, making it easier to access and giving greater control to those that use it for greater insight and to develop new products and services.

These factors alone can help to accelerate innovation thanks to the organisational structures and speed of access the cloud offers. At the same time, the enhanced security profile often provided by cloud-based services, such as tools that can ‘mask’ sensitive data, also has the potential to free up data flow.

As breaches continue to make headlines and the rise of challenging new data privacy regulations, data masking has never been so relevant. It’s so important that businesses across all industries manage their data with greater caution; in fact, it’s fast becoming a part of the reference architecture for organisations seeking a holistic approach for accelerating collaboration and innovation.

In Kondo’s world, decluttering can bring joy to one’s life. In the world of business, decluttering data can deliver faster innovation; it can make collaboration a joy rather than a frustration. And when collaboration is a joy, innovation and growth are sure to follow.


[1]https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2018-12-06-gartner-data-shows-87-percent-of-organizations-have-low-bi-and-analytics-maturity