Corporate Tuberculosis

So, I’m sitting in this meeting at an enormous Fortune 50 company. The general theme of the meeting is “digital transformation” and creating better insight into data for the business. Operations wants something really straightforward: direct access to data for faster turnaround.   We’re reviewing the most powerful data technologies in the market and how they all fit together to deliver exactly what the business wants.Untitled-1

And then a guy on the phone starts ranting. He’s got a fiefdom of 30 people running a 20 year old ETL tool that serves as the single gateway to the business. They’ve made enormous investment and he was having none of this meeting.

Furrowing my brow, I realized: “Aarrgh! – They’ve got a Data Hoarder.”

Data Hoarders are the corporate equivalent to Tuberculosis.  Won’t kill you right away but, they didn’t call it consumption for nothing.  Data Hoarders are a wasting disease from which, without significant intervention, you will eventually die.

Let’s set some context here. Worldwide corporate data use is cranking away at something like 8 Zettabytes per year.   That’s up from about 0.5 Zettabytes since 2009.  What’s a Zettabyte?  Well, if a Gigabyte were one second, one Zettabyte would equal 31,688 years.  

Here is the thing: in any given company somewhere between a quarter and half of the data falls into what we consider “critical corporate data.”This is the kind of transactional and metadata that has a clear and material impact on the company.  Exposing this data is critical toward building meaningful insight.

There is this saying: “Do what you’ve always done | Get what you’ve always got”.   It’s a peppy motivational quote.  But in the corporate world  doing what you’ve always done has a feeling of genuine safety.  The institutionalization of this is:  “Better the devil you know (than the devil you don’t) .”   But when it comes to data there is something afoot that upends the apple cart: Data is an ever changing deluge. Old technology scales miserably.  It requires larger and larger fiefdoms just to reach the starting line. In other words, if you do what you’ve always done, you will get far, far less than what you’ve always got.

So, You’ve Got Corporate Tuberculosis-Now What?

There is good news. Remember that 20 year old ETL.  It cost a fortune and requires dozens of skilled personnel to run.  There are plenty of amazing tools out there that completely change the game.  K3 just happens to be one of them.  At so many of our clients we have liberated data from monolith applications so the business can get at that data and do things with it.  We are talking about delivering streaming and cross functional data in weeks not years, and at a fraction of the cost.

I know.  Data Hoarders are a tough nut to crack.  Smart CEOs and CIOs have an open door policy when it comes to dismantling this type of fiefdom.  But even more important is getting Data Hoarders to let go of the fear leading them to hold on to job security for dear life.  If you really want a safe job, be the person that enables democratization of enterprise data.  Trust me, your career will be far more rewarding when you become a key stakeholder in delivering spectacular insight.