8 Things We Learnt About Data in 2016

The key takeaways from Commvault and OmniChannel Media's event series looking at the evolving world of data within enterprise.


Throughout 2016, my team at Commvault collaborated with OmniChannel Media to create a series of industry events that looked at the evolving world of data within enterprise.

Andrew Mills, Queensland Government

With the ‘proliferation’ of data reaching fever pitch, we were keen to create a forum where executives could explore the changing role of data. Central to the series were themes such as building data as a strategic asset, activating data within your business for better business outcomes, as well as understanding the challenges with data when moving to the cloud. It was amazing to hear so many perspectives on these topics and see where different industries took the conversation.

Throughout the series, we connected with over 200 executives across ANZ and collected insights and observations. Here are the eight key takeaways we learned from 2016:

1. Confirmed: Data is a Valuable Asset

The days of data being a function of IT, or a legacy of IT systems are over.

This was made clear as 100% of the C-Suite executives we spoke to said that data was either already a strategic asset to their business, or that they were building strategies to harness the power of their data.

2. Data Will Start to Feature on Balance Sheets

If data is an asset, then organisations are going to start treating it like one. Many of the discussions we had with executives suggested that as data becomes more and more valuable to the business, it should be treated and managed like a currency.

Attendees shared anecdotal examples of how organisations were already accounting for data as an ‘asset’ in their financials. This appears to be on the rise as data sets to become the new oil for the digital enterprise.

“Many of the discussions we had with executives suggested that as data becomes more and more valuable to the business, it should be treated and managed like a currency.”

– Tim Hill, Commvault

3. 100% in the Cloud Within Five Years

One hundred percent of attendees think that data will be solely stored in a cloud (most likely a mixture of public and private) within the next five years.

The rise of cloud computing over the last decade has presented challenges to the IT, Risk and Compliance, and Finance functions of the business. Cloud has changed the discourse of infrastructure forever.

Sarma Rajaraman, Brisbane City Council

It appears, however, that the pendulum has swung and there is a general acceptance that cloud computing is underwriting the vast majority of infrastructure strategy.

4. Clean Data Yields the Right Insights

A consistent theme throughout the year was IT executives accepting that for data scientists to draw valuable insights from data, they first and foremost need to start with ‘clean’ data.

It is widely accepted that this challenge sits solely with the IT function, however the responsibility should be on the whole organisation to maintain a proper data management.

5. Data Management is a Culture Challenge

Following on from that, the idea that organisations needed to spend more time investing in the culture of data management was consistent throughout the 10 cities we visited.

In the modern workplace, not only is everyone exposed to data, everyone creates data. Having the right structure is important, but getting departments to really understand the value of data and make managing it a priority will create a longer lasting impact.

6. Management is on the Rise

As we continue to generate vast amounts of data, organisations appreciate that they must invest in data management best practices. A staggering 85% of attendees told us they will be increasing investment in information management.

Information management has evolved over the last 20 years to almost be unrecognisable. What hasn’t changed is the appreciation that IT executives need to understand where their data is, how it is being used, and whether it is being properly backed up.

7. Having a Complete View of Data is a Challenge

A significant 86% of attendees told us that having a complete view of their organisation’s data is a major challenge.

Based on the discussions, this challenge arises from a combination of legacy systems, as well as the idea of ‘shadow IT’, where data is being created by plug-in technology from different areas of the business and not properly accounted for.

8. Recovery in the World of Cloud Computing is Still Critical

Craig Sims, ANZ Bank

A great deal of the practical discussions around data moving to the cloud looked at the compliance aspects of data management.

CIOs are being presented with some excellent opportunities to take advantage of the cloud and scale their business at a competitive rate.

What remains consistent from a decade ago is the need for organisations to have robust recovery strategies in place. This is particularly relevant in the fields of FSI with highly regulated data requirements, but is now becoming more apparent for other industries with the incoming advent of data breach notification laws and data sovereignty considerations.

Editor’s note: Tim Hill is the Head of Marketing for Commvault Australia & New Zealand. Commvault was a sponsor and co-supporter of both the “Activate Your Data” and “Data as a Strategic Asset” series’ in 2016.