Is the complexity of your company's data making it difficult to make effective IT decisions? If so, you're not alone. Keeping the lights on and systems running while still finding the resources to innovate is a challenge for most IT organizations, and the growing complexity of data about IT environments is making that challenge nearly insurmountable for many.
According to a new study by Forrester Research, commissioned by Data as a Service (DaaS) company BDNA (creator of the Technopedia repository of information on enterprise hardware and software), 73 percent of high-level IT decision makers cite the complexity of data as the largest challenge in making effective IT decisions in the next 12 months.
"We're a big company with lots of systems, and harmonization is a monumental task—taking inventory, what systems are out there, what validation state they're in, what systems they can combine," says an IT corporate quality executive at a multibillion dollar equipment manufacturer interviewed for the study. "And feeding this information into change control, consolidation and validation—where they are and status tracking. We are trying to find one global solution, but end up doing it with multiple tools—and sometimes manually."
There are two main drivers of the accelerating challenges around data complexity says BDNA CMO Mahesh Kumar: innovation and the Internet of Things. Innovation by both an organization and its vendors (i.e., new products) and the introduction of new complex technologies like cloud, mobile and virtualization are add to the volume and complexity of data. The addition of new connected technologies like wearable technology, vehicles and even buildings that are part of the Internet of Things will exacerbate the problem.
"Enterprises need to take a step back and honestly assess the magnitude of the problems that lie ahead," says Constantin Delivanis, CEO of BDNA. "Without doing so, it is impossible to take correction action. Compounding the current data problem is the amount of updates vendors are making to their products—giving customers decision paralysis due to the lack of clean and purposeful data. In an analysis of our data, Microsoft, IBM and BMC Software combined to update more than 16,500 software products in the first nine months of this year!"
"Several years ago, outsourcing was going to reduce all the money we spend in IT," Kumar says. "It really didn't happen. Then virtualization was going to be the panacea. Cloud computing is it now. The thing that everyone is overlooking is that each of these endeavors is complicating the data behind it all. A lot of the efficiency you gained in virtualization is lost in trying to manage the data or the environment itself. You're simplifying one aspect but complicating another. We believe it's the data that's getting so complicated right now that the benefits of innovation are getting delivered in a very localized fashion."
And that complexity can translate directly into unnecessary costs. He points to one BDNA customer—a Fortune 100 financial firm—that had to migrate 300,000 desktops to Windows 7. The company sought to perform the migration manually. It had close to 20 employees working on the project for nine months with very little progress to show for it. They were struggling to put together data on the software the company owned, the versions of that software and what those versions were compatible with. Moreover, only a little more than 50 percent of the information they had compiled was accurate.