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Organizations are on average managing 10 times more data than they did five years ago, from 1.45 petabytes in 2016 up to 14.6 petabytes in 2021. That’s the top-level finding from Dell’s 2021 Global Data Protection Index, which spotlights the challenges organizations face arising from the threat of ransomware and complexities around data growth.

Emerging technologies like cloud-native apps, containers, AI, and machine learning present data protection blockers to organizations, which may impact their future-readiness. Complicating matters is the accelerated adoption of multicloud and hybrid cloud environments. According to a Statista survey, from 2020 to 2022, managing data in multicloud environments is expected to be the most challenging data management challenge for enterprises.

The Dell survey found that most business leaders lack confidence in their data protection solutions, with 82% of respondents reporting concern that their organization’s solutions won’t be able to meet future business challenges. Even companies taking steps to overcome the hurdles say that they anticipate major headwinds. According to Dell, 58% of businesses investing — or planning to invest — in software-as-a-service apps are struggling to find data protection for them.

The report’s results agree with other research into problems around enterprise-scale data management. Responding to a 2020 Seagate and IDC survey, organizations said they collect only 56% of the data potentially available through their operations due to gaps in infrastructure and internal tooling. Two-thirds of respondents blamed their issues on insufficient data security and the distributed nature of their data.

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Similarly, in a 2019 NewVantage Partners survey, 53% of companies stated that they aren’t treating data as a business asset, while 52% admitted that they aren’t competing on data and analytics. Interestingly, 93% identified people and process issues as the obstacles rather than technology. Between 24% and 40.3% cited a lack of alignment and cultural resistance as the leading factors contributing to data management failures.

Potential solutions

With as few as 13% of enterprises delivering on their data strategy, how can organizations right the ship? Reports to date note the different data management solutions enterprises could employ to better leverage their data, like analytics-enabled data orchestration and well-functioning data architectures. Other recommendations include pinpointing specific projects and business initiatives that move a company in the right direction.

Whatever the reasons for failures in data management, Randy Bean, NewVantage Partners founder and CEO, says that it’s imperative for companies to embrace analytical decisions and actions as the amount of data continues to rise in business and society.

“In short, the need for data-driven organizations and cultures isn’t going away. Firms need to take a hard look at why these initiatives are failing to gain business traction, and what actions must be taken to reduce the cultural barriers to business adoption,” Bean wrote for Harvard Business Review. “Many companies have invested heavily in technology as a first step toward becoming data-oriented, but this alone clearly isn’t enough. Firms must become much more serious and creative about addressing the human side of data if they truly expect to derive meaningful business benefits.”

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