As organisations become increasingly digitally driven, there is an urgent need to get to grips with data management. Too many businesses lack a clear insight into the mountain of information they’re sitting on; and with data growing at an average of 39% a year, now is the time to change that. Failing to do so will harm the business through a combination of data leaks and attacks, unnecessary data storage and management costs, and poor data compliance.

This is particularly timely with the GDPR on the horizon, giving citizens greater control over how their personal information is used. Rather than data management being an option, the new data privacy regulations will require organisations to have a better command over the information they collect.

From infrastructure to information

Up until now, business transformation has focused on the infrastructure, but as organisations move their operations to the cloud, infrastructure is becoming more commoditized. Consequently, investing time and energy to build and maintain infrastructure will not pay off in the long run, unless it is coupled with effective information management.

Today, data is arguably more important than infrastructure, being the foundation for the digital business: the only thing in the business that is truly irreplaceable. It’s also growing in volume. IDC predicts that the digital universe will reach an unimaginable 44 zettabytes by 2020 – ten times the size of today. Over 80% of it will be unstructured data, and around 60% will be copies of original information.

Furthermore, the digital universe will become more fragmented as data spreads across multiple clouds, data centres and remote offices. This is another strong argument for taking information management seriously.

Eliminate unnecessary storage

However, it is no longer sufficient to create multiple backups of everything with infinite retention times, which is both costly and ineffective. The unnecessary storage of data can cost organisations in Europe a cumulative $891bn by 2020 to manage; with Gartner estimating that it costs roughly $5m to store and manage 1PB of enterprise data.

Instead, businesses need to manage their data efficiently and intelligently. They need to understand what they have and how it’s used, and protect and manage it well. Digital business transformation offers an opportunity to manage your information more effectively, make the business stronger and more competitive, and avoid the problems that come from data hoarding.

Proactive data management

But even if you haven’t fully transformed your business to a digital one, you should factor data management into your next level of IT investment. You could, for example, consider introducing data visibility to identify Dark Data - the 52% of data in an organisation that has not been unidentified. Or you could employ better data management to drive down redundant, obsolete and trivial (ROT) data which makes up around 33% of enterprise data.

You should also look to implement unified data protection to improve security, and data resilience to help prevent costly downtime. Veritas can help you implement all of these proactive measures, enabling you to gain control over your valuable data.

It’s time for IT organisations to make data management a priority and develop a 360-degree information strategy. Businesses need to be able to identify hidden data, unlock the value of their information, and avoid the many problems that come from unmanaged data. Digital transformation and GDPR-compliance will follow as a matter of course.