Data represents a store of value and a strategic opportunity for enterprises across all industries. From edge to cloud to core, businesses are producing data in vast quantities, at an unprecedented pace. And they\u2019re now rapidly evolving their data management strategies to efficiently cope with data at scale and seize the advantage. \u2026 Or are they?\n\nWell, some are. Those are the data-first organizations, the industry leaders who understand that, amid a flood of data, navigating via data-first principles to radically simplify data management is not only critical to surviving and thriving in the long run, but also essential right now, when advantages in data management can determine a company\u2019s future success.\n\nLet\u2019s look at some real numbers. According to the results of a recent survey1 of 750 IT professionals from analyst firm ESG, 93% of IT decision-makers see storage and data management complexity impeding digital transformation. However, only 13% of surveyed organizations could be considered data-first leaders. In other words, everyone knows that data management is a major challenge, but very few have been able to turn obstacles into opportunities.\n\nThat\u2019s why simplifying data management now is a crucial initiative: There's plenty of running room to establish future competitiveness and market position. To go deeper, let\u2019s break down the pressing need for a data-first approach in three ways:\n\n1. A data-first strategy is the rocket ship to innovation\n\nHidden in your data is a new world of possibilities, new customer experiences, and the next wave of applications that will drive tomorrow\u2019s business outcomes. We see evidence of this from numerous perspectives. But right now, that data likely spans edge, cloud, and core, and a good portion of it may be difficult to access and manage due to silos and complexity.\n\nHow much complexity? ESG found that, on average, surveyed organizations relied on 23 different data management tools. Picture all that hardware and software, the silos they represent, and the difficulty of using all those tools to manage the lifecycle of data and data infrastructure \u2014 including access, protection, governance, and analysis \u2014 across an edge-to-cloud environment. It\u2019s overwhelming.\n\nESG also found that 74% of respondents acknowledged that their data management capabilities can\u2019t keep up with business requirements. That means slow deployments, lots of tuning and maintenance, delays from manual provisioning, and ultimately missed SLAs that affect the entire organization. Without efficiently serving data at speed to your stakeholders, you\u2019re missing opportunities and losing time.\n\nThis bears repeating: There\u2019s a real cost to standing pat and doing nothing about data management complexity. Fortunately, there\u2019s also a simple solution: go data-first.\n\n2. To achieve digital transformation, you need simplified data management\n\nDigital transformation is what every modern enterprise seeks, but it\u2019s difficult to imagine successful digital transformation without first solving for data management, which is a core competency of any data-driven organization. The key to simplifying data management is to deliver the cloud operational experience wherever your data lives. In the real world, data and apps are needed everywhere \u2014 which is why organizations are moving away from a cloud-first strategy and going data-first. Delivering cloud operations on-premises, at the edge, and in off-premises locations is truly transformational and precisely what a data-first strategy seeks to harness.\n\nIn a previous article, we discussed the pathways to simplify data management from edge to cloud and the substantial business benefits to going data-first. To truly power digital transformation, you need to deliver a cloud operational experience for your apps and data wherever they live via these key steps:\n\n3. Start now, and data-first is a race you can win\n\nA data-first strategy means you can move faster than your competition. Data-first yields faster time-to-market, happier stakeholders, and more satisfied consumers. Ultimately, it leads to accelerated business success and \u2014 since data-first entails simplified data management and a modern approach to data protection \u2014 lower risk.\n\nTo illustrate how data-first organizations tend to pull away from the pack, consider this: ESG found that data-first organizations were 20x more likely to beat competitors to market by multiple quarters. At the same time, they were 2x more likely to recover from ransomware attacks within minutes.\n\nWith numbers like these, the gap between data-first organizations and everyone else is set to grow substantially, and the sooner you join the first group, the better.\n\nChoose the right technology partner to get you there\n\nThe good news? You\u2019re not alone in your journey. HPE GreenLake delivers cloud operations across hybrid cloud through a unified and secure edge-to-cloud platform. With industry-leading infrastructure services, cloud data protection, and data management services, HPE GreenLake helps you jumpstart your journey to data-first modernization.\n\n1 ESG Research on behalf of HPE: Why Being a Data-first Leader Matters, 2021\n\nAbout Shilpi Srivastava\n\nShilpi is the Head of Data Services and Storage Marketing at HPE. With experience spanning cloud services, data storage and cyber security, Shilpi is passionate about technologies that help business innovate and succeed. Shilpi previously led cloud and container solutions marketing at Pure Storage and has held Product Marketing and Technical lead positions at Micro Focus and JP Morgan Chase. She has an Bachelor of Engineering degree from India and an MBA from University of Texas at Austin.