The Importance of Data in the Digital Era

Now, more than ever, organisations are recognising the value of data and the potential for increased capability through its effective exploitation. Traditionally, organisations spend 80% of their budgets ‘keeping the lights on’; but for them to be successful, data is the prerequisite to the movement to dynamic, distributed, and digital outcomes. Modernisation and transformation support organisations to build foundations for growth by collating information and data sets into accessible structures. Digitalisation can also capitalise on the use of automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), increasing efficiency and enabling better outcomes.  

We see that the volume of data is growing exponentially, with 90% of the data in the world being generated in the last two years. Data is the underlying golden thread in this process that can enable a business to drive value and incubate innovation. But, are we harnessing the value of data to become truly digital and if so, what is slowing down this journey? 

A common emerging difficulty is the ability to effectively leverage data to drive real business outcomes. In UKCloud’s 2021, State of Digital and Data Report, only 52% of respondents claimed to have the necessary resources to exploit data and drive efficiencies. Therefore, data management skills, such as collation, processing, storage, and analysis, will be critically important to its adoption and success. 

What risks do organisations need to mitigate to be successful? 

A recent study showed that 48% of respondents highlighted security and compliance as significant concerns that hinder the use of digital technologies and deriving the best value from data. In the 2021 Cyber Security Breaches Survey, 39% of businesses reported security breaches or attacks in the last year; from which a third of these businesses reported a negative impact. The annual survey concluded that the pattern of these statistics was in line with both 2019 and 2020. This suggests that breaches are almost inevitable, so mitigation strategy and recovery planning become critical to reduce the impacts on the business, highlighting the need for a structured and supported approach. 

Storage and retention of data also needs careful consideration. The difficulty of deciding what data a business requires to operate effectively is often complicated by external factors, such as, mandated retention periods for specific data types. For example, personal data must only be retained for as long as the organisation needs to process it with authorised consent. Without effective data discovery and management this introduces high levels of complexity. Could you imagine having to sort through multiple terabytes of data collated over 7 years?  

One important step in the management of data is a centralised and structured data solution. This offers a strategic approach to managing data from multiple sources, allowing control of elements, such as security, backup, and assurance. This ensures data can be manipulated and exploited from a central location, aiding more efficient modelling. 

The application of virtualisation and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can unlock more potential from the same data sets. With machine learning and scalable infrastructure on demand, organisations can reduce the time taken to reach achievable results. Gartner highlighted in 2021 that one of the top trends in data and analytics is the ability to accelerate change, which has already shifted towards smarter, more responsible, scalable virtualisation and AI.  

UKCloud’s data virtualisation partner Denodo defines virtualisation as “a logical data layer that integrates all enterprise data siloed across the disparate systems, manages the unified data for centralised security and governance, and delivers it to business users in real time”. The benefits have shown to increase both agility and performance, with the possibility to deliver up to 400% return on investment. 

AI technologies are also advancing, Gartner recognised data fabric as one of the top strategic technology trends of 2022. It provides an integration of data sources regardless of the location and uses analytics to learn and actively suggest where data should be used, reducing data management efforts by up to 70%. 

But what can AI solutions actually deliver? 

In the public sector, AI is providing more accurate information for decisions, reducing the time needed on tasks that can be automated and improving services through personalisation. Focusing on healthcare, Forbes reported that AI-assisted robotic surgery can reduce a patient’s hospital stay by 21%, limiting complications from surgery and facilitating the performance of more advanced surgeries. In Defence, the same technology can help detect threats earlier, recommend counter strategies faster and account for risks, optimising the efficiency of deploying personnel.  

Ultimately, how these technologies are being implemented is revolutionising all sectors; all underpinned by the successful utilisation of data. Organisations need to ask themselves, what is their strategy around their most valuable asset…data?  

Through the use of an effective data management strategy, organisations have the opportunity to understand what data they have to drive greater efficiency, incubate innovation, and accelerate growth. 

To learn more about how to harness the power of data and what UKCloud can do to help, speak to one of our business experts 

We also have the following resources available:, Data Centre Modernisation, Professional Services, Data Assessment and the State of Digital and Data Report.