Organizations striving to achieve unified data truth now have to grapple with hurdles such as remote-working. How can they address this?

Over the past 18 months, wave after wave of lockdowns across Asia have spurred businesses to accelerate their digital transformation efforts as they attempt to stay afloat amidst a global pandemic.

As the lockdowns and emergence of variants continue, investments in the right technology have injected more resilience into operations. Top of mind is cloud computing: many firms have turned to hyper-scalers, public cloud and managed services providers (CSPs and MSPs), private on-premises cloud services, edge computing or a combination of two or more of these.

However, managing cloud platforms is a complex role for any IT department, much less one that has to support a growing number of remote-working employees who need to access their mission-critical data and applications anytime and anywhere.

Another strategic concern beyond day-to-day operational challenges is fundamental to any digitalization effort: Consolidating ‘unified data truth’ for the whole organization.

What is a unified data truth?

Imagine being able to extract insights across the entire consumer journey from social media marketing performance to customer service interactions and transaction histories from just one single data pool.

This so-called ‘unified data truth’ (also known as a ‘single source of data truth’) is key to rethinking everything we know about traditional data storage. It argues for the integration of all systems and applications within an organization whether they reside in an office server or in a cloud service provider.

In doing so, we can obtain a holistic view of business and performance metrics, ranging from customer satisfaction to employee engagement. Companies that have achieved this single source of data truth also find themselves becoming more agile at making data-driven decisions. 

Before the pandemic, achieving this unified data truth was already a major challenge, but with remote-working in place, the difficulty has risen to a whole new level. Data is now spread across even more locations, from hundreds to thousands of employee laptops in their own homes, to the servers you run, to the various cloud platforms that your organization may be utilizing.

This is further compounded by old-fashioned thinking that this endeavor is merely a job for IT. Without active participation from all the lines of a business, it is almost certainly impossible to develop a cohesive framework for what this unified view of data should look like.

Making data unification a reality

Here is the good news: this is the perfect point in time to embark on a data unification quest.

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation efforts in many organizations worldwide, and it is a simple matter to add data strategy and management to your on-going agenda.

Of course, that is only the first step, but it goes a long way into ensuring that you are keeping data at the back of your mind as you seek to digitalize your business.

Next, it is important to review your existing infrastructure to determine the various silos where your company’s data reside. This may prove to be a challenge because your data grows daily. Every new customer and every new transaction, for example, will add to your ever-expanding pool of data. As such, this is not a one-off exercise, but one that must be regularly undertaken and reviewed.

Once you figure out where your data lies and implement processes to manage its growth and storage, you may begin developing a strategy to consolidate them all into a unified plane of existence.

This strategy should include technologies that consolidate data, applications and infrastructure across different cloud environments into a single, cohesive management interface. Also included are tools that automate the monitoring and adjusting of workloads simultaneously.

In short, you want to be able to harness the strengths of different cloud services and use them to crunch your data to your advantage, whether it is insights into customer conversion or expediting decision making.

Minimizing disruptions and lag

Finally, to build a resilient, future-proof data architecture, you will want to implement cyber hygiene and governance practices. For instance, as remote-working continues to be a fixture, technology to minimize downtime must be put in place to ensure that workers have access to the data and applications needed to do their jobs.

This may include comprehensive organization-wide cybersecurity policies, or predictive analytics and AI-powered monitoring to catch and nullify potential disruptions before they happen.

Throughout this journey, you may want to consider partnering with data management specialists, or your preferred technology consultants or system integrators. They can help you design, implement and optimize an effective data strategy that balances security, performance, and cost.

Ultimately, a unified data view has the potential to not only boost your business in the short term through the pandemic, but fuel further growth in the post-pandemic era.

The goalposts may shift as the economy evolves, but the right teams and the right partners will make the continuous search for a single source of data truth second nature to your organization.