Businesses lose $10 million in potential revenue due to poorly managed data archives
Organisations of all sizes and across industries are drowning in data, unable to effectively mine their data archives for key insights that could ultimately improve business outcomes. However, the findings also indicate that a subset of organisations are in fact successfully leveraging their data archives and the benefits are impressive – as much as an additional $10 million (£6.4 million) in revenue from streamlined IT and customer service operations. This is according to the results of teh landmark study, “Mining for Insight: Rediscovering the Data Archive,” an IDC white paper, announced and published today by the provider of storage and information management services Iron Mountain.
The research reveals that organisations with a well-defined data archive process stand to realise value from two potential avenues: cost savings and added revenue from monetising archives. On the savings front, more than half of the organisations polled realised $1 million (£640,000) or more in savings over the past year from risk mitigation and avoidance of litigation, with the top 21 percent reporting savings of more than $10M (£6.4M). Similarly, 44 percent of organisations reaped $1 million (£640,000) or more in savings stemming from reduced operational or capital costs, with the top 18 percent capturing more than $10 million (£6.4M).
More striking is an organisation’s ability to draw new revenue from an effectively managed data archive. While 39 percent of companies surveyed benefitted from an additional $1 million (£640,000) or more in revenue, the top 15 gained more than $10 million (£6.4 million). On average, companies polled saw an additional $7.5M (£4.8 million) in new revenue streams from their data archive.
Despite leaving money on the table, the majority of organisations – 76 percent – believe they are already maximising the value of their archives, making data archiving a real blind spot for business leaders. With only 38 percent of companies using archives for business analysis, a critical process to drive additional revenue by better understanding markets, improving products and service delivery and better serving customers, it’s clear that the majority of respondents are not truly leveraging the power of their archive.
Of the 24 percent of businesses that acknowledge they could be leveraging their archives more effectively, nearly three quarters believe they could be extracting two times or more value than they realise today, with more than a quarter believing they could gain five times or more value.
Commenting on the results of the report, Eileen Sweeney, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Data Management, Iron Mountain says: “Data archiving isn’t just about meeting legal and compliance requirements anymore. The research shows that there are real financial benefits to be realised by implementing an effective data archiving strategy. To truly leverage the power of enterprise information, organisations must first take a hard look at their data management program. Even organisations with advanced archiving processes can stand to gain cost savings and additional revenue streams.”
Sean Pike, Program Director, eDiscovery and Information Governance Research, IDC adds: “There’s a real disconnect between the value people think they’re currently realising from their archives and the potential additional revenue they could stand to gain by simply managing their data more effectively. However, organisations of all sizes and across all industries can expect to see an uptick in revenue and cost savings by revisiting their archives to fulfil business objectives. This is especially critical in today’s information-driven economy, where the key to success or failure comes down to how effectively businesses can manage data and how quickly they can act on that information.”
To help organisations bridge the disconnect between perception and reality, Iron Mountain and IDC recommend organisations implement the following processes:
- Hire a Chief Data Officer to oversee and derive value from the data archive, while working closely with the Chief Operating and Chief Information Officers to set long-term business and data strategies.
- Develop Information Maps of all data sources and repositories (and their value) across the organisation.
- Implement a holistic, consistent archiving strategy that addresses data retention schedules, use cases, the value of data, necessary accessibility and archive costs.
- Consider working with a third party vendor with specific expertise to help optimise your archiving solution while freeing up internal IT resources to focus on more strategic and innovative work.
Other Key Findings
- More data, more problems: Most companies maintain six or more electronic archives, storing a range of structured and unstructured data.
- Process makes perfect: A staggering 88 percent of organisations lack a uniform process for archiving across data types, making it hard to identify and access important information when needed.
- Organisations panic when confronting information overload: Without a clear process and pressure from the top to implement Big Data programs, more than 40 percent of organisations simply archive everything to avoid investing time and resources upfront to determine what’s truly important.
- Unclear archiving processes make data unusable: Over time, companies archiving everything quickly amass “data swamps,” making data hard to find when needed, as opposed to the “data lakes” many businesses aspire to create with a crystal clear data archiving strategy for quick and easy information retrieval.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”