Exploiting enhanced data management to create value in the ‘new normal’

This is a guest blogpost by Stuart Bernard, Vice President, Global Digital Solutions, EMEA, Iron Mountain.

COVID-19 has turned businesses and economies upside down, changing the world irrevocably. The challenges set in motion by the pandemic, however, also provide an opportunity for us to flourish in a new reality. In the corporate world, whilst seeking out every opportunity to cut costs, progressive organisations are using this recovery phase as an opportunity to create new value: correcting their course, adopting new policies and accelerating their digital transformation. It is also an important opportunity to introduce increased levels of flexibility and diversity into business models where remote and asynchronised working has become the norm.

Leaders of businesses seeking to recover revenue need to seize this opportunity to find new ways to create long-term value and ensure business continuity. One area ripe for review is data management in all its facets – access, availability, delivery and security. And post-pandemic, focusing on five key imperatives can help maximise the impact of a modernised data management strategy on overall business performance.

  1. Cost saving

Companies today are under more pressure than ever to save. Meanwhile, they are expected to process and hold exponentially growing volumes of data. This takes up critical space and all too often incurs costs for unnecessary capacity and electricity consumption. To ensure data management processes are as smart as possible, businesses should:

  • Begin by classifying their data and reviewing it alongside compliance obligations to ensure they are not storing too much. It is important to be ruthless in what you keep, or – if that’s difficult – then at least about what needs protecting.
  • Develop a robust tiering system to match the various kinds of data with the most appropriate and cost-effective storage solution
  • Look at data storage holistically – owned and operated, co-located and cloud – to identify optimisation opportunities. Is your data centre the right size for your needs, or can some real estate be offloaded or utilised for more productive purposes?
  • Seek to improve enterprise search capabilities, making it easier for staff to search through data to increase productivity
  1. Employee and customer protection

The social distancing measures required post-COVID mean that employers are having to reassess every aspect of their working practices. This has physical implications – in terms of how and where staff and clients interact, as well as virtual ones – linked with the effective enablement of remote working, as well as the protection of sensitive data on remote devices. Rising to these new challenges can be taxing, particularly now that IT teams and end-users are further apart. But again, business leaders should be reassured that the right digital enablement and business process services can take large chunks of their concerns away, for example:

  • Services which minimise the risk of data being stored on people’s home machines, including remote desktop solutions, encryption and two-factor authentication and the remote lock down of assets.
  • Solutions such as image on demand, which eliminate the need for physical deliveries to people’s homes.
  • Expert support with compliance throughout information lifecycle management, including the secure processing of screening and sanitation records.
  • Vendors who can ensure a secure chain of custody, physical as well as digital, with a particular view to new COVID-related obligations.
  1. Data 4.0

The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people view, access and retrieve data. It has also put new burdens on already stretched IT departments and electronic delivery – now that the footprint of use has extended to people’s homes. Data management upgrades can deliver significant benefits:

  • An investment in advanced data management services offers the opportunity to automate and enhance process and workflow efficiency, eliminating errors and freeing up staff to focus on creating value elsewhere.
  • Machine Learning technologies offer new opportunities to make better use of your data – to implement data copy management now that digital archives have become even more important, apply proper retention strategies, as well as unearth new revenue streams and cost saving opportunities.
  1. Reduction of ‘data landfill’

These days, virtually every human on the planet is taking up data, and the pandemic has made consumption grow even faster. Each meme or news story shared and every meeting recorded all needs to be stored somewhere. And the larger the army of remote workers conducting business from their home offices, the greater data storage capacity will be required by every company. Whilst it may appear ‘virtual’, all data takes up space and uses energy somewhere. As such, it is vital to consider the impact we have on so-called ‘data landfill’ and look for ways to reduce our contribution:

  • Companies need to start by adopting a robust data management strategy — accounting for privacy, compliance, and security issues, while ensuring only the data required is stored.
  • Instead of having disc platforms with petabytes of data, running gigawatts of electricity, tape is an inert medium. You can store a terabyte of data at only 2-300 watts of power helping you hit your environmental goals.

Beyond its tragic human toll, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven fatal to inflexible businesses. And the corporate death toll is continuing to grow. For long-term survival, organisations need the agility to flex between business models. Modernised data management policies, processes and tools are critical to enabling this.

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