Data Management Discontent: Do You Need To Change Your Platform?

Today I was alerted to another interesting blog post, Data management discontent: Time for change. Evidently a yet-to-be published study by IDG and sponsored by SAP indicates that companies surveyed are so unhappy with their current data management platform that 49% report plans to evaluate new data management approaches and solutions within the next 24 months.

The key issues cited in the post include the excessive costs and inefficiencies across a complex infrastructure, better real-time access and analysis of data, improved ability to support mobile workers and better ways to deliver the value of big data to employees as the key drivers for change.

This sentiment is a pretty bad indictment of the current state of data management. While we can’t read the study until it is published, let’s assume that by “data management environment” this study is referring to their primary tools for managing the data that they use to run their business. I would expect this would include their operational systems (ERP et al), databases, data movement and integration tools and analytical environments.

I’m sure the megavendors will use this as an opportunity to propose an integrated stack from top to bottom to reduce complexity and infrastructure. Given the respondent statistics, it’s likely many are already running one of these platforms. But is swapping one megavendor platform for another really the right answer?

Sometimes the innovation in data management comes from smaller players. Part of the issue we see with customers who have big investments in the usual data management platforms is they are not getting the capabilities or the agility they need to respond quickly and remain competitive. The big vendors buy companies but it takes years to fully integrate the new capabilities. As a result customers can suffer due to delays in getting new capabilities rolled out that they hope helps drive better business outcomes.

And, the looming Big Data phenomenon is only going to add more urgency to this feeling that companies have about their current data management inadequacy.

The best way to attack a huge problem such as an underperforming data management platform is to break it up into smaller pieces. Instead of swapping out SAP for Oracle or IBM (or vice versa), start with identifying and resolving a business issue that you believe exists due to poor data management. Then identify places where you can make a positive impact quickly. Maybe you start with addressing a master data management issue for a department, a line of business or some other specific use case. Perhaps you can automate steps that go into integrating data into your warehouse or BI tools. Or there may even be cases where tighter governance around the data and how it is handled can have an impact without changing the underlying systems and platforms.

There are many tools available today that can be applied sensibly towards solving this problem. The key is to be practical, start small, deliver business value, and put yourself in a position to steadily march ahead.

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