The True Cost of Inaction

I recently read an article in Forbes that laid out seventeen predictions about the future of big data. Some of those predictions may come true, some may not, but the only absolute guarantee when it comes to data is the fact that data volumes will continue to grow. As a colleague mine recently wrote in his blog titled “Overcoming Dirty Data,” right now your company likely has the least amount of data it will ever have again. This is an undeniable fact and something most companies are leaving unresolved at their own peril.

Right now at companies around the world, big and small, data volumes continue to grow at an exponential rate. Data strategies range from simple quality control to overarching strategic initiatives that promise to create market advantages unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Regardless of where your company is on the data strategy spectrum, no strategy can be realized with one single solution. As data volumes grow and data technology continues to evolve, it will force companies to take a constant and iterative approach to managing and utilizing their data.

With data management becoming an ongoing process and not a simple one-time solution, that process needs a solid foundation. It needs a starting point. That foundation needs a set of quality control measures, governance and infrastructure that’s designed to be scaled and molded over time. Herein lies the problem.

Many companies are delaying even the most basic and essential investments into their data strategies – investments that will be required regardless of when they decide to take those first steps towards a truly strategic data program. Most delays in data strategy investment are due to either a lack of budget, lack of perceived immediate ROI or simply a lack of understanding around the promise of big data and business intelligence in general.

While deferring these costs may be appealing in terms of helping to manage a company’s budget today, this action will eventually lead to a much more complicated and costly version of the same, inevitable baseline investment tomorrow. Unlike other technological advances in the last twenty years, data is not only living and breathing, but also growing in both size and complexity, and thus cost.

As Bill Gates once said, “we always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” When it comes to your data strategy, beware of the cost of inaction.