The amount of data produced in the world today is doubling every three years as information pours in from digital platforms, IoT devices, and billions of mobile phones.
In this new dawn of data, companies are able to generate more data at a faster rate and it is more accessible to a larger number of users, making data an organisation's most strategic asset.
As a result, the nature of doing business is shifting to become largely about data consumption.
But the significant increase in data has its own issues.
For starters, large amounts of data place huge demands on network and application performance, threatening both businesses and customer experience.
Organisations must ensure users have easy access to data, wherever they are, while also keeping it secure.
In addition, many organisations struggle to understand their data.
The problem is twofold.
On the one hand, businesses have a tremendous amount of data, digging into it to understand their customers takes skill, and often specialised software.
At the same time, business data is rarely found in one place – businesses have multiple places to store data, as do individuals, making it a challenge to aggregate it all to build a full picture from the data. With many organisations seeking to modernise their infrastructures and leverage the cloud, business data will continue to be scattered across environments.
Perhaps the most important challenge for data is its protection.
Whether organisations want to mine data for insights, or simply prevent it from falling into the wrong hands, data is needed to keep businesses moving with minimal disruption.
Today, all enterprises have a responsibility towards their data – they have to be able to protect it, at all times, from all risk.
Unfortunately, data risk and loss can come from a huge number of places: internal, external, malware, system failure, human error, flood, or fire.
At the same time, the wide disparities in data strategies, the evolving nature of data and related technologies, as well as the changes in governmental and industry regulations, make it no easy task for an organisation to stay protected.
Despite this, organisations are responsible for creating, maintaining and using data.
This means they are also responsible for creating backup copies, retaining it for compliance and using it when it is attacked to maintain and restore services.
A lack of proper data protection processes can mean anything from a loss in revenue and reputation to a loss of lives in cases in which hospitals and critical healthcare systems are involved.
But it is impossible for businesses to protect themselves if they don't know what they are protecting, and it isn't always as simple as it sounds.
To keep data safe, organisations must know everything about their data.
Taking the time to understand the ins and outs of their data while adhering to good data practices, is the only way organisations can avoid the long-term consequences of cyber-attacks, human error and system failure.
At the same time, these practices have the added benefits of improving redundancy, while assisting in developing a clear and automated disaster recovery plan.
Increasingly, it's becoming clear that organisations who take this step will also enjoy an increased competitive edge, as they begin to understand their data, their costs and the opportunities for improvement.
With data now an organisation's most important asset, organisations must take the time to understand their data and build a robust data protection strategy to keep it safe.
But they can't do it alone.
At the same time, organisations must be empowered by technologies that address their needs for scale and reduced complexity without compromising reliability or cost-effectiveness.