Providers like Google and Amazon Web Services are actively encouraging businesses to unify all their data. The idea is that using a cloud-based data ecosystem helps you offer a better service while reducing the onerous costs associated with fragmented technology.

This trend raises inevitable questions about operations and security, and organisations are balancing these worries with the fear of getting left behind. Should you make the transition? In this post, I’m going to outline what’s at stake in the battle for your business data.

Informed decision making

Most organisations struggle to realise the value of their business data, and there are many reasons why.

Firstly, most still have data silos. Even if you use cloud services for different functions – CRM, finance, ERP or marketing – they often fail to connect. This makes it hard to get analytics that aggregate all your data, so you struggle to make decisions based on a holistic view of the business.

Secondly, business data is full of inconsistencies because systems store it in their own ways. This could be as simple as using a different date format, but dealing with large volumes of data compounds these issues. Cloud ecosystems give you an easy way to unify and standardise your data, so users have confidence that they have access to comprehensive and up-to-date information.

Competitive advantage

Data is key to developing high-quality customer episodes and experiences. In other words, the more accurate insight you have, the more customers you attract and retain, and the more competitive your business becomes.

To maximise the competitive advantage you achieve from your data, you need to look at your data alongside external sources. This is especially true as we move towards increased adoption of connected technology and the Internet of Things.

One way cloud players empower businesses is by opening up opportunities to leverage third-party data sources securely. Take a supermarket as an example. It has extensive data on its customers and marketing effectiveness. Local government, on the other hand, may hold data on the area and population - for instance, public health issues and traffic patterns. The supermarket can improve the customer experience on a local level by looking at its data and government data together. Based on traffic data, they can predict peaks and troughs in footfall, for example, and staff the store accordingly. This will give customers an easier shopping experience, and they are more likely to return as a result.

And don’t forget the monetisation opportunities. Last year, transportation firm INRIX launched a data partnership with Google-owned traffic app Waze. Google purchased access to INRIX data and integrated it into the app to give drivers information on parking availability.

Your business data has intrinsic value, and you boost that value exponentially by having a secure way to integrate it with other data sources.

Cyber security

You can only maximise your data’s value if it’s secure. Your reputation is linked to data protection - customers, suppliers and partners will hesitate to work with you if they’re concerned about this.

Security issues are often cited as reasons for not moving data to the cloud. It can ‘feel’ safer to have the data stored within the business. However, the risks are generally the other way around. Major cloud players have state-of-the-art security expertise and technology that will likely outstrip your in-house skillset.

Flexibility to adapt to changing business and customer requirements

In today’s fast-moving business world, you need to be agile. Your data can help you do this - by alerting you to trends and flagging issues before they escalate into problems. But you need to be able to slice and dice it easily to realise this value.

With most fragmented and on-premise data management systems, it’s hard to do this quickly. In the cloud, the more data you integrate, the more agile you are. And because cloud infrastructure is inherently scalable, you can start benefiting very quickly - there’s no waiting around for new capabilities to be added.

Is your organisation getting full value out of its business data?

If not, the opportunity costs associated with your current approach can affect your ability to engage customers, streamline operations and boost profitability.

And this will only become a bigger issue as we all move to a more connected business world with higher customer expectations.

Key takeaways

Companies like Google, Salesforce and Amazon Web Services are actively encouraging businesses to migrate all their data to cloud-based platforms.

Most organisations struggle to realise the value of their data because there’s no easy way to get analytics that pull in accurate information from across the business.

Maximising the competitive advantage you achieve from your data comes from analysing your own data alongside external data sources.

Cloud systems give you the flexibility to adapt to changing business and customer needs without requiring you to overhaul all your technology at once.

Major players have state-of-the-art security expertise and technology that far outstrip what individual organisations have, meaning your data is generally safer in the cloud.

Accelerating a customer experience culture – Data-driven agility

Business data, data analytics, cyber security, cloud, Organisation 3.0