Four steps for sharpening up data management

Summary:The scale of the task stops many firms imposing order on their data, but a few simple steps could help start the process

Many organisations understand the importance of managing information in a consistent and structured way for effective corporate decision-making, but most are daunted by the scale of the task they face in imposing order.

The vast majority of enterprises still keep structured and unstructured data in functional silos to facilitate storage and management by the IT department.

But such an approach does not make sense to the business, which often cannot find what it is looking for, does not trust the quality or integrity of what it does find or is unaware of what information exists in the first place.

One of the problems is that often, users still have to employ manual processes to bring relevant information together, particularly as they frequently store multiple copies of data on random disk drives.

The situation is aggravated by increasing amounts of information emerging from an expanding number of sources. For example, corporate data is found in everything from spreadsheets and user-developed Microsoft Access databases to mobile phones used to take photographs during workshops.

Filing disciplines
Another issue, says independent consultant Graham Oakes, is that few organisations today use the traditional filing disciplines associated with the days of paper.

"We were all told that computer search mechanisms would make it easier to find information and that we didn't need to structure our data any more. But while search can do good things, it has now been overwhelmed by the volume of data," he says.

Although many companies paper over the problem by buying relatively cheap storage, the fact remains that if different versions of related information are scattered across the organisation, it becomes difficult to locate, access and exploit effectively. So what should businesses do?

Topics: Tech & Work

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