Data Thrivers are aggressively disruptive in the use of digital technologies to affect new markets, and this sets them apart from companies that are merely Data Survivors or even Data Resisters.

A global research programme by NetApp and IDC, focused on helping companies to embrace digital transformation, offers advice that companies can use in their digitalisation journey.

With only 11% of companies fitting the profile of a Data Thriver, traditional industries are now at serious risk of losing a significant percentage of their revenue to more data-driven organisations by 2018. Top industries at risk include utilities (29%), retail (more than 25%), industrial equipment (20%), financial services (18%), and government (18%).

Companies that use data to drive business and satisfy customers in new and innovative ways, have only just begun to disrupt the market.

“Data visionaries inspire their organisations to be Data Thrivers. They recognize that data is no longer locked away on devices hidden behind firewalls. It is now distributed, dynamic, and diverse,” says Jean English, senior vie-president and chief marketing officer of NetApp. “Our mission is to support companies throughout the digital transformation process, delivering hybrid cloud data services that radically improve organizational efficiency and create new business opportunities.”

Data Thrivers are taking steps to increase revenue, improve business outcomes, and transform data into dollars. Many Fortune 100 companies are building out innovation labs, as well as creating new roles for innovation executives and data management officers. Of the organisations that participated in the study, almost half already have a chief data officer.

Data Survivors are losing revenue opportunities, lagging in employing data to enhance customer satisfaction, and being overwhelmed by their data. They use disparate tools to manage data that is in different formats and different locations, which adds extra complexity to managing security, risk, privacy, and compliance.

“If companies don’t transform to become Data Thrivers, they will find themselves the victims of digital Darwinism, which is impacting businesses across industries and sizes,” says Laura DuBois, IDC group vice-president: enterprise storage, server and infrastructure software. “Organizations are moving away from business as usual and embracing digital transformation. Companies are discovering they must modernise their systems, models, processes, and architectures to compete.”

Organisations that exhibit Data Thriver behaviours are adopting a diverse set of technologies, including data services for hybrid cloud.  These services include various protection, security, integration, and optimization functions on data for the purposes of agile and economic data management and faster time to insights.

Top three things that Data Survivors can learn from Data Thrivers are:

* Use data as an organisational asset;

* Enable IT and business to work in unison; and

* Create data maps for data visibility and control.

Organisations seeking to move from Data Survivor to Data Thriver must perform a holistic transformation of people, process and technology and create a digital transformation roadmap, which should include:

* The creation of new roles;

* Setting up new staffing models;

* Instituting new processes;

* Making new investments; and

* Exploiting data services for the hybrid cloud.