The move to the cloud has brought about a revolution in the IT industry. A recent survey from IDG found that 73% of organisations have at least one application or a portion of their computing infrastructure in the cloud already, and that is expected to grow to 90% in 2019. But the cloud isn’t necessarily a recipe for success. In fact, in many cases, the proliferation of multiple cloud applications for storage has provided IT teams with major headaches when it comes to data storage and management.

Mass data fragmentation a business threat

It’s an often-repeated mantra nowadays that companies are using data to ‘unlock’ value for business. Although data certainly can be valuable, it must be managed correctly or else it may just end up becoming a hindrance and an obstacle.

Unfortunately, data management is a bigger challenge than it seems on paper. We all know data is being created in volumes that are almost impossible to comprehend. 90% of all the data ever generated has been created in the past five years, and this number shows no sign of slowing down. But it’s not necessarily data growth that’s the only issue to keep in mind. A phenomenon called mass data fragmentation (a technical way of saying: “unstructured data that is scattered everywhere, in the cloud and on-premises) is the issue that seems to be wreaking havoc on businesses around the globe. With mass data fragmentation, massive volumes of what’s called secondary data are stored in a dizzying array of legacy infrastructure siloes that don’t integrate and are therefore incredibly challenging and costly to manage, burdening an already over-burdened IT staff. Instead of driving digital transformation, data that’s housed in this fashion becomes a hinderance to it.

In case you are wondering what secondary data is, it’s all the data that’s not considered primary data. Primary data is your most critical data, data with the highest service level agreements. Secondary data includes data that’s stored in backups, archives, file shares, object stores, and data that’s used for testing and development and analytics purposes. You may be surprised to know that secondary data comprises roughly 80% of an enterprises total data pool!

Mass data fragmentation is not just a management challenge. The repercussions of mass data fragmentation can be much worse. All this fragmentation makes it incredibly difficult to know what data you’ve got, where it’s located and what it contains. This raises huge compliance vulnerabilities, which of course can lead to fines and reputational damage. More so, it’s nearly impossible to drive any meaningful insights from all that data. And, remember, we’re talking 80% of a company’s overall data pool. If you can’t get the right insights from your data at the right time, that can lead to major competitive threats and lacklustre customer experiences.

Let’s probe this further and look at recent survey data that shines a bright light on what’s happening within enterprises globally? Cohesity surveyed 900 IT leaders at global enterprises across the UK, US, France, Germany, Australia and Japan, with an average revenue of $10.5bn.

Data silos create real management challenges

According to the study, close to a third of organizations use six or more solutions for their secondary data operations, and most IT managers store data in two to five public clouds.  By using multiple products and the cloud to manage data siloes, the burden on IT becomes staggering, and the resource drain starts to creep upwards.  Additionally, 63% of organisations have between 4-15 copies of the same data. And as IT struggles to keep up with this dizzying array of copies, the cost to store all these copies also rises, and additionally begins creating compliance challenges for organizations as we referenced above.

IT Teams being stretched

87% of IT leaders believe their organisation’s secondary data is or will become nearly impossible to manage long term. According to the survey, if IT is expected to manage all the organization’s secondary data and apps across all locations and technology isn’t in place to accomplish that goal, 42 percent say morale would decrease, which is important to keep in mind at a time when finding and hiring top talent is increasingly difficult. As much as 38% of IT leaders fear massive turnover of the IT team, 26% fear they (or members of their team) will consider quitting their jobs, 43% fear the culture with the IT team will take a nosedive.

These findings offer a clear indication that the IT teams would prefer to be working on something else – ideally, delivering innovation to the business rather than trying to manage a complicated web of data silos that’s only getting more complex over time. Of those respondents who believe their data is fragmented, 49% of the IT leaders surveyed expressed that failing to address the problems of mass data fragmentation will put their organisation at a competitive disadvantage, while 47% believed that customer experience would suffer. Moving forward, almost 100% believe it will consume significantly more time – up to 16 additional weeks per year, without more effective tools.

Resource reallocation could have a huge impact on business

91% of senior IT decision makers said that if half the amount of IT resources spent managing their organisations secondary data were reallocated to other business critical IT actions, it could have a positive impact on revenues over a five-year period. Of those who share this belief, nearly 30% of respondents believe this adjustment could positively increase revenues by at least 6% over a five-year period, while nearly 10% believe this could impact revenues by 8-10% or more. With average revenues of companies in the survey above $10Bn, (€8.7bn) that would translate to roughly $800 to $1B (€885m) in new revenue opportunities.

The search for a solution has been driven by the desire for a holistic view of a company’s secondary data on a single platform. To lead this process, organisations need to be able to consolidate data silos onto a single hyperconverged web scale platform. Through this platform, they can then take control of their secondary data and immediately address and solve challenges pertaining to mass data fragmentation. With the pressures of digital transformation firmly placed on every business, organisations need to determine how they can take more of a data-first approach, similar to Amazon, Netflix and other data-driven companies. This can create new opportunities to differentiate against competitors and delight customers while advancing your bottom line. For more information and to learn more about the issues covered, view the report here.