Kathy Gibson is at IDC CIO Summit in Zimbali – Modernisation creates numerous benefits for organisations, but there are also major challenges associated with the paradigm.

Arguably, chief among these are the challenges associated with data and its management.

“We are all in the environment where there are numerous apps going up, virtualisation and various services, and companies are looking at how to manage this environment,” says Gerhard Fourie, district channel manager: South Africa at Commvault.

“The traditional ways of managing data – having a number of different solutions – all just continues to add complexity into the environment.”

Commvault has designed its solution around its own data and management needs, Fourie explains.

“Typically, companies have been building siloes and siloes of data and we need to be able to manage it properly.”

Where we are today is that IT is no longer the sole responsibility of the CIO as IT is becoming more and more responsible for business outcomes. But businesses also need to take responsibility for data, Fourie adds.

“This is where we are trying to give IT an advantage – to help them keep control of their data.”

In any proper data management strategy classification is key, says Fourie. “You have to figure out why it is important to the business in the first place.”

Digitising documents needs to be carefully thought through as well. “Pick the areas where you can make a difference, and where you can make a difference today,” Fourie says.

“Once you start understanding what data is on what devices, what data comes into the organisation and what data leaves the organization, you then need to understand from a business point of view what data is important.

“Choose your battles and tick the boxes one by one. You can’t boil the ocean; that just sets you up for failure.”

Interestingly, often the biggest culprits regarding data coming into or leaving the business are the executives, Fourie adds. “You need to understand this and how to protect the business.”

Having policies is all very well, but they are often behind the curve, and the problem is worse for larger organisations where time is not on their side.

There is no magic wand that can help companies get their policies done. “But proactivity is important,” Fourie says. “Typically in business, companies are forced to act when something happens.”

But the responsibility to be proactive is not just IT’s, he says. The business, the board and IT all need to take responsibility on board.

The regulatory environment plays into this too.

Education, Fourie adds, is important in promoting proactivity helping all the right people in the organisation to think about data policies.