Why Are Singaporean Companies Struggling with Data Management?

When Singapore launched its data portability requirement, it was celebrated as a step in the right direction.

It allows secure sharing or transfer of data while giving full control to its owners. The benefits were obvious: lower switching costs, enhanced competition, and more business innovation.

“[But it] begs the question – are we opening a Pandora’s Box of data management ills?” asked Ravi Rajendran, managing director, Asia South Region, Veritas Technologies.

The Unknown Data Threat

The truth is that Singapore companies are already drowning in data management problems. They understand the advantages of proper data management but are struggling with known and unknown data.

The Veritas’ Value of Data Study said 99% of Singapore organizations in Singapore believe they have missed out on valuable opportunities because of ineffective data management.

Forty-five percent said they are losing out on potential deals as a result. "[Which is] the highest proportion among its regional counterparts as well as globally,” said Rajendran.

Poor data management is also affecting strategic decisions (53%) and being competitive (43%). They are also more vulnerable to data security threats (44%).

“To achieve effective data management, organizations need to go beyond optimizing storage space and possess the ability to distinguish mission-critical information from ROT (redundant, obsolete and trivial) data and act on it at the right time. This is no easy task in today’s complex IT landscape where data is stored in a variety of different environments, spanning from on-premises, cloud to mobile devices,” said Rajendran.

The fragmented data management market is no help, though. More than half (52%) of Singapore respondents said there were too many of them – the highest among all the surveyed countries.

At the same time, organizations are finding it challenging to deal with data sources. "Thirty-eight percent of global organizations say they are having too many data sources that are difficult to analyze. In this regard, close to half (49%) of organizations in Singapore faced the same challenge,” said Rajendran.

“It is also no surprise that 92% of the respondents in Singapore (78% globally) agree that their organizations could improve on the ease of data sharing across business functions. It is clear that data sharing is already a challenge within an organization, let alone across different data sources from other organizations,” he added.

CDOs and C-Suite Should Take Responsibility

Creating the right data management environment is no easy feat. It also requires strong executive sponsorship. And here, half of the Singaporean respondents felt, not enough is being done.

“Data is certainly a strategic asset when it is properly managed. However, some senior leaders still view data management as an administrative cost, with little consensus on who should be responsible for data,” said Rajendran.

In the study, 49% of Singapore organizations (46% globally) admitted that there was not enough awareness or sponsorship about the negative consequences of poor data management.

“[This] implies that they are often fighting an uphill battle to drive change. Globally, one-third of the organizations (Singapore 38%) also cited an absence of support from senior management as a barrier to achieving a higher return on data management investment,” he added.

Rajendran felt this is where chief digital officers come in. They will be able to highlight the “real costs” of ineffective data management.

Else, Singapore companies stand to lose millions. Globally, organizations estimate that they lose over USD 2 million a year due to data management challenges. In Singapore, the figure stands at USD 2.66 million, the highest among its regional counterparts.

“There is also an adverse impact on efficiency, with employees losing two hours a day searching for data, resulting in a 16% drop in workforce efficiency,” Rajendran added.

Technology is Already Here

Companies like Veritas are trying to tackle the problem. Their single platform approach helps to abstract complexity from IT infrastructure to allow senior management to get what matters to them most.

Abstraction is also the key concept driving Veritas' latest brand refresh. It also forms the foundation of its Enterprise Data Services Platform, a unified set of technologies designed to abstract the complexity of enterprise IT.

“In parallel, CDOs should promote a shift in user behavior - a critical element for effective data management. With increasingly stringent data regulations in place, it is timely to train, educate, and improve the culture of an organization on how data should be managed – to maximize the value of data.”

Rajendran also suggested a three-step approach to data management: classifying data, enabling policies, and liberal use of automation. "[And] automation, through means of artificial intelligence and machine learning, can take on the tasks that an IT workforce cannot and will further unlock the capabilities of an organization’s data."

Dark Tales of Abstraction

While much of the data strategies are focused on known data, there may be hidden opportunities in unknown data or data whose value has yet to be understood.

The industry calls this dark data. It may include vital business-critical data as well as useless ROT (redundant, obsolete, or trivial) data. The Veritas Value of Data study noted that 52% of business data is “dark data” and “unmanaged by policy.”

“Most often, it is because enterprises do not know what data exists in their organization or where it lives. In fact, 21% of global organizations (Singapore 25%) do not know where data is located,” said Rajendran.

But as the data portability requirement highlighted, this dark data can become a hidden risk.

“As data continues to grow unabated and change being the only constant, the complexity of data management will not go away and can arguably only get worse,” said Rajendran.

Time for Singaporean CDOs to face this challenge.