Data Is A Dirty Business—Even In The Cloud

Philip On

I’m not one to criticize the cloud—and I still won’t—but there are certain problems that can occur without proper information management. Every modern business person will agree that the cloud is a major step in the right direction for data management, but I’m willing to bet that many companies struggle with data cleansing. In the wide world of Big Data, keeping your data clean and well managed is crucial to your business’ health.

Explore the cloud conundrum

The 2016 Global Data Management Benchmark Report by Experian Data Quality states that by 2020, businesses will be expected to base the majority of their sales decisions on the information they glean from customer data. The cloud is a major facilitator of storing and using Big Data for this purpose—that is, when it’s used correctly. Bridging the gap between what’s possible with the incredible amounts of data that we have access to in the cloud and what we currently do with it requires proactive Big Data management.

Within the cloud, Big Data can easily get out of hand and unmanageable. Mismanaged data fails to enable business growth, learning, and optimization. As businesses create more information via Big Data and cloud systems, the challenges that we experienced with data silos and quality have amplified. The sheer volume and variety of data pumped into cloud solutions poses an issue that data managers haven’t had to deal with: keeping up with the speed of data storage technology.

Data cleansing and high-quality information management is now more important than ever. Companies must efficiently clean, merge, and organize their data as quickly as they did when data was physically stored on-premise. Otherwise, they risk using only a fraction of their enterprise information and losing valuable insights that they need to achieve superior business performance. If a company doesn’t know who its consumers are, for example, there’s no way to offer the right people the right deal at the right time—and that’s just bad business.

Show your data who’s boss

To match consumers to their transactions, view their order history, and predict what they want, your enterprise needs to show your data who’s boss. Forget about having a cool user interface if you can’t get the basics down.

Here are my personal best practices for data quality, governance, and integration in the cloud:

  • Remove unnecessary data. Your virtual data trashcan is your best friend. Set time aside for your team to go through every piece of data transferred to the cloud, getting rid of information that you never use. If the information is sensitive, leaving it hanging around the cloud for no reason is a security risk. It’s a painstaking process, but going through your files individually is the best way to declutter the cloud.
  • Create a comprehensive filing system. Create a filing system ideal for your operation, depending on the nature of your business and your top cloud priorities. Don’t let your data pile up with nowhere to go. Establish a governance process and data storage rules with no question as to who is responsible for data storage and organization.
  • Keep your team on the same page. It takes time to cleanse and manage your cloud data. It’s not an overnight process, nor is it one that you can do once and never do again. Consistent Big Data management requires a group effort in which everyone with access to the cloud has the same marching orders and knows their role in the process. Recognize the data leaders in your enterprise, and assign them tasks to regularly clear out unused data and organize the important info that you need.

The cloud presents a gold mine of opportunity for businesses that want self-service, real-time access to enterprise data. The ability to shape, prepare, and cleanse the information for decision-making is possible because of the cloud.

However, these business goals are moot without organized data storage. Once you’ve successfully cleaned up your cloud data, you’ll be able to quickly view, analyze, and use the consumer data that you need to optimize your business efforts. Whether you run your business entirely in the cloud or in a hybrid environment, follow these best practices to create a foundation for success.

Learn more about business innovation in the cloud.

Philip On

About Philip On

Philip On is technology expert in database and data management with over 20 years of experience working for market leaders like SAP, Oracle, Business Objects, salesforce.com and Intel. Philip leads product marketing for SAP Database and Data Management cross portfolio and Enterprise Information Management.