Are you treating your data as an asset?

Are you treating your data as an asset?

It’s a phrase we constantly hear, isn’t it? Data is a crucial business asset from which we can extract value and gain competitive advantage. Those who use data well will be the success stories of the future.

This got me thinking: If data is such a major asset, why do we hear so many stories about data leaks? Would these companies be quite so loose with other assets? You don’t hear about businesses losing hundreds of company cars or half a dozen buildings, do you?

If data is a potential asset, why aren’t companies treating it as such?

The reality is many businesses don’t treat data as an asset. In fact, it’s treated so badly there is increasing regulation forcing organizations to take better care of it. These external pressures have the potential to provide significant benefits, forcing a change in the way data is viewed across organizations from top to bottom. Forcing data to be treated as the asset it is.

If you can start to treat data as an asset, you can put yourself in a position where data really can provide a competitive advantage.

Do you have too little data in your organization? Probably not. In data discussion groups, a common refrain is that companies “have too much” and “it’s out of control.” Organizations are spending more and more resources on storing, protecting and securing it, but it’s not only the cost of keeping data that’s a problem. Tightening regulation will force you to clean up what you have.

It’s not an asset if you just keep collecting it and never do the housekeeping and maintenance that you should with any asset. If you don’t look after it, you will find it very difficult to realize value.

Your starting point is to ask yourself what you have, why you have it, and why you need it.

I talk regularly with people about the what, where, who and why of data. Understanding this will allow you to start to gain control of your asset.

Once it’s decided what your organization should have — and what you should be keeping — you need to understand exactly what you do have and, importantly, where it is stored: in data centers on laptops, on mobile devices or with cloud providers.

Next, the who and why.

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