by Danielle Bingham | February 02, 2024

The Time Trap: How Data Overload Impedes Actionable Insights

The Time Trap

Data drives decision-making. More importantly, fresh data drives timely decision-making.

In a perfect world, an organization would have all the data it needs—when it’s needed—to make accurate and prompt decisions that direct business operations. The unfortunate reality is that many IT teams struggle to provide data access to Operations (Ops) decision-makers, which means that Ops don’t have enough data in their hands allow agile action. They must work with what they have at the time.

Waiting for all the data they need could mean missed opportunities. But, acting before having all the data could translate to the same outcome. If data is a puzzle, each scenario results in missing pieces that don’t show the full picture.

CData recently conducted a survey of more than 550 decision-makers in Ops and IT from organizations with a workforce of 200 employees or more. This study explored the data access hurdles they encounter and the reasons behind these challenges. The resulting report sheds light on the broader impact of these challenges on today's organizations and explains the role of data connectivity solutions in improving accessibility to critical, time-sensitive data for agile decision-making.

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When the clock is ticking

All data has an ‘expiration date’ of sorts. Like a loaf of bread, data is best when it’s fresh. As time goes on, some of its usefulness fades. If it takes too long to reach the hands of decision-makers, it becomes stale and less impactful—or worse, useless. Depending on the kind of data, that expiration date could be a few days, a few hours, or even a few minutes, yet the study showed that no more than 15% of respondents have access to live data.

Let’s look at this another way: 85% of Ops leaders don’t have access to live data. Regardless of the perspective, this number is startling, given the dependence on timely, accurate data in today’s business environment. In this get-it-now digital economy, the time it takes to analyze and respond to data can make the difference between moving forward or falling behind.

The IT department often bears the brunt of this responsibility, even though they don’t have the ability to do much about it. IT teams often contend with having more requests than they can handle, security protocols that impede data access, and lengthy data integration processes that serve up already outdated data for analysis. A large percentage (41%) of respondents revealed that they spend up to 60% of their week handling data requests. Despite this, they still struggle to deliver data at the rate their organization needs to make quick decisions.

When time runs out

Business agility depends on how fast an organization can access, analyze, and act on its data. Successful strategies and plans count on the insights from the most recent data they have access to. Nearly half of respondents (49%) say they can’t access the data they need to do their respective jobs. Delays in obtaining information—whether from slow processes or lack of accessibility—often leave Ops leaders no choice but to ignore the data that they can’t get in time.

This indicates the depth and breadth of the issue. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents believe that their coworkers are similarly hobbled. An interesting twist: 35% of Ops leaders don’t push for helpful data because they don’t want to add to the IT department’s workload. They already know that IT is overloaded, so they ignore the datasets they need for comprehensive reporting.

These numbers highlight a significant consequence: The financial downside of incomplete data utilization. Despite the costs to gather, store, and maintain it, organizations are unable to gain the full value from their data, invalidating the expected cost-benefit ratio of having the data in the first place.

Like dominoes, each challenge here triggers the next, creating a cascading effect that results in a significant impact on the potency and usefulness of data. Limited resources and a high workload on IT teams lead to delayed data accessibility. The delay causes critical data to be ignored. This, in turn, impacts the decision-making and operational efficiency the data was expected to support. ROI (return on investment), customer service, and revenue suffers because the data’s full potential is not realized.

The interconnectivity of these challenges means addressing any of them could help stop the cascade. Indeed, the right connectivity tools can improve operational agility to turn these challenges into opportunities.

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There’s no time like real-time

Cloud-based data virtualization is poised to address the specific time-critical issues facing data-driven organizations, allowing them to make full use of their data. Reliable real-time data connectivity boosts the effectiveness of not just the data but the people who work with and rely on it.

Data virtualization for the cloud does not require data to be downloaded, copied, or moved in any way. The data stays at the source, removing the complexity of manually building reports based on data that was pulled minutes, hours, or days earlier. Security is also enhanced because the data isn’t duplicated or moved, which reduces the risk of mishandling or errors.

Accessing live data in the cloud enables employees to generate their own analyses and reports using the reporting tools they already have – no more waiting on overloaded IT staff to process requests for data that gets older by the moment.

Live data access also helps organizations take advantage of their data to generate projections and develop strategies based on real-time trend analysis, increasing operational agility to stay competitive. Data virtualization for the cloud can also reduce data storage overhead costs because data is no longer copied or moved to another storage location for processing.

Overall, data virtualization for the cloud simplifies processes, reduces costs, removes security hurdles, and eliminates the manual tasks that prevent IT and Ops from doing more critical work.

Beat the clock with CData

CData provides universal connectivity solutions that can help deliver fresh data that are relevant and actionable. Give your IT teams the tools to allow them to perform like clockwork.

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