What lies beneath: A new approach to big data for Australian businesses

Australian organisations could be losing as much as $2.5 million a year as a result of data management challenges

Jump back a few years, and database management would have been top of the list in the ‘best leave that one to the techies’ category.

But in 2019, as data reigns supreme and businesses strive to make sense of and profit from big data, the need for effective management systems in place to efficiently manage and structure data has become a key business concern. It is no longer something business and technology leaders without deep technical knowledge can ignore.

A recent report indicated that Australian organisations could be losing as much as $2.5 million a year as a result of ‘data management challenges’ while 97 per cent of organisations worldwide believe ineffective data management has led to the loss of valuable opportunities.

For IT managers, data can be a common factor in late night and weekend work, but time wasted doesn’t stop there – the same report cites employees are losing two hours a day, on average, searching for data.

So, getting data management right can not only save time and costs, but be a catalyst for innovation and growth.

A healthy need for data

Health and wellbeing are undoubtedly where we stand to benefit the most from technology – major improvements in healthcare are now largely been driven by technology and data plays a key part in that.

The switch from paper to digital has seen a vast increase in the level and sophistication of timely data collection and access in healthcare. More data means better-informed clinicians and the ability to rapidly, assess, compare and evaluate. At the same time, the data evolution has made it easier to adopt new technologies including the Internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to further enhance diagnosis.

However, it also means the correct structures and skills need to be in place to manage and make use of that data.

A recent future of work study in Queensland identified data management skills as important as traditional nursing skills for managing patient care.

It’s not fair to burden clinicians and other non-IT staff with data management responsibilities if the systems aren’t even workable by IT staff. While the skills might be necessary to advance healthcare technology, clinical staff provide the most value in the time they spend treating patients. Thus, whatever technologies they’re involved with need to be kept as simple as possible.

Data-driven financial services regulation

Another industry in constant need of smart data management systems is financial services. Still healing from the Royal Commission and Hayne Report, the sector is challenged with leveraging technology to improve transparency and customer services.

The key role enhanced database management can provide here is identifying potential risks earlier and addressing them, thus providing increased oversight and compliance for the companies and greater reassurance for their customers. while minimising the factors that contribute to the Royal Commissions and other similar inquiries.

Further, there is the looming prospect of open banking, which will enable citizens to access all financial data and send it to other companies at their discretion. By 1 July 2020, the big four banks must have all customer and product data available under the open banking framework, with the remainder of the country’s banking institutions to follow suit in within a year.

This puts a real, and strict timeline on the industry to get its database management systems in line.

Healthcare and financial services are just two examples of the far-reaching impact data and data management is set to have on Australia’s enterprises. Every sector from retail to telecoms and manufacturing to automotive will all play their part.

The bottom line

IDC forecasts that the global big data market will increase around 55 per cent from around $184 billion today to $286 billion by 2020.

We estimate that around $70 billion of current big data spend goes into the infrastructure that underlies database management systems, usually – and increasingly nowadays – involving cloud.

One of the main reasons infrastructure consumes so much cost is due to storage, management and backup of functional databases. This might sound technical, but it’s something a variety of staff get caught up in all the time. Any time a copy is made of a database involving customer relationship management (CRM), payroll and scheduling, inventory tracking and more, it has an impact on the infrastructure supporting the database and contributes to the high cost.

It’s easy to see how the increasing focus on big data could see these costs skyrocket. Hence, businesses need to think not just about the database management systems they invest in, but a step further to what sits underneath it.

Technology sometimes has an ironic habit of creating new problems or recreating those it was supposed to solve. Database management has that potential, if it becomes too complex to manage and the experience of non-technical staff who access it becomes burdensome.

As in most aspects of business, and life, the answer is a balance: a combination of the right IT environment and management system(s), one that is for the most part automated and affordable. Then, and only then, will we see the true value of big data and how we actually benefit from the information we’re creating.

Bala Kuchibhotla is general manager of databases for enterprise cloud company Nutanix. He was in Sydney recently speaking at the .NEXT On Tour Sydney conference

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