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Can data storage and recovery drive transformation?

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Digital transformation is fast becoming an over-used term; the likely reason being that it is a catch-all phrase which means different things to different people, or organisations. For many, digital transformation can be summed up as any migration to Cloud solutions. However, for others it means leveraging any new or emerging technology to evolve one’s business.
Yet, digital transformation can also denote moving away from traditional, paper-based systems to IT-enabled platforms. The meaning is hugely dependant on the level at which the business is currently, and their vision for growth, writes Michiel von de Crone, senior director: systems engineering at Commvault.
Personally, I believe, digital transformation is the ability to move forward and innovate as fast as possible by leveraging digital technology. Whether people oriented, business focused, or customer centric, this technology should evolve in order to keep up with market demands and remain relevant in a face-paced world.
Going “digital” is typically synonymous with the use of exciting, trendy technologies such as the Cloud, mobile technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other, similar new and emerging technological innovations. However, digital transformation can also be achieved by leveraging data storage, backup, and recovery solutions to maximise the value of data for the purpose of growth and evolution.

Data for digital transformation
Legacy data management, backup, storage and recovery solutions have traditionally been viewed as grudge-type purchases. A solution where the value lies in data restoration or recovery, and is only usually realised once – if ever – that data is compromised. Data, though, has value, and there is an abundance of this value to be found in stored, archived, copied and replicated data that usually sits – unused – on a backup server somewhere.
Organisations often pay <great sums of money> to keep data in multiple locations, which only becomes ever more expensive as data is being generated at an exponential rate in most, if not all, industries. In fact, a Gartner study says that only 40% of an organisation’s data is actual production data, while 60% if it is secondary copies of the data. Organisations are increasingly frustrated at the rising costs of data storage as they still require the infrastructure to manage the data, however the data only “works” for them when and if they have a data loss.
What if organisations could activate that 60%, however, and use it to their advantage? What if they could extract value and – more attractively – generate additional business and revenue, from this data?
CIO’s are starting to think the investment that is being made in data management, and how they can leverage this to deliver more to the business, by enabling innovation, customer centricity agility.
From a commercial and business perspective, it starts to make sense to use this data and extract as much value from it as can possibly be had. For the digital growth and transformation of the organisation, and in line with their growth and transformation strategy.

Leveraging data for growth
The advent of cloud allows for data to not only be stored off site, as a service, but also for a host of functionalities to be enabled which are not commonly available on on-site data storage servers. When activated, this data delivers an abundance of untapped value to the business.
Data platforms that include feature and functionalities such as analytics, indexing, vendor portability, and efficient workload transportation while still offering protection and recovery can ensure that organisations receive optimal value from their data.
These solutions are all readily available separately, however, rather than investing in analytics training, infrastructure and more, accessing these solutions through one’s data management solution, who is already geared to easily access and utilise secondary data, is a far simpler and cost-effective solution to consider.
Modern data management solutions already have access to a business’s data, and indexing and customising an analytics solution, relevant to the business’s industry and requirements, is relatively simple. From this value-added service, businesses can identify patterns and trends for forecasting and better decision making. They can identify customer behaviour and leverage this to grow their customer base, or direct targeted campaigns to various customers. Avoiding common pitfalls and repeat mistakes through analysis of historic data.
Data therefore becomes the driver of both revenue and business growth.

Driving cloud adoption
Beyond the benefits of accessing the value-added services mentioned above, moving to a cloud based data storage platform also helps to drive cloud adoption in South Africa. Cloud, today, is following a similar pattern to the adoption of virtualisation some years ago: many are reluctant to migrate entirely to the cloud, citing security concerns and, more frequently, a distaster for vendor lock-in.
However, as security becomes more technologically sound, and the cloud provides more value-added services to boost growth and cut costs (particularly important in our current economic climate), more and more organisations are exploring it’s potential.
Vendor lock-in can also be avoided, with the right partner, enabling organisations to seamlessly port from one vendor offering to another, based on evolving needs and shifting requirements. In turn, this allows for a heretofore unknown level of agility, which speaks directly to the ever-changing demands of today’s customer.
In fact, cloud is likely to become the platform of choice for most, if not all, organisations’ IT requirements, even beyond storage and recovery and, where cloud adoption is associated with digital transformation. It is easy to see why moving data recovery to the cloud forms part of both a local and global digital transformation movement.