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There’s no escaping the fact that 2023 is going to be a difficult year. Exactly how difficult it will be is hard to predict, but a combination of factors – a war in Ukraine, high inflation, Covid, tempered PE activity, and rising interest rates – have impacted and will continue to impact individuals and businesses for at least the next twelve months.
But forewarned is forearmed. These issues have been hiding in plain sight and we can and should use this knowledge to our advantage. After all, amid the extremely challenging economic conditions, we’re still experiencing a competitive market for talent. The usual guidance on cutting back on costs and investment must be tempered with that understanding, or risk losing key people to competitors.
I want to focus on data, and how taking a deeper, more strategic look at a firm’s data estate can not only help right-size a business for a downturn but can also drive innovation and competitiveness. We must remember that even in a recession, growth should still be a primary goal, and better use of data can not only help identify strategic market bets but supercharge them.
Below are three areas where firms in all sectors can sweat their data assets to gain maximum benefit.
1: Empower the data superheroes
Better quality datasets, that fuel richer applications, that enable deeper analytics, that yield better business insights … it’s the holy grail of data management for companies the world over. Yet too many companies burden their data superheroes with software and systems that make data acquisition, access, and analytics slow, cumbersome, and expensive. It does not have to be this way. Think of data engineers, app builders, and data scientists as a virtuous circle, constantly feeding each other with insight and understanding. Prioritise simplicity, efficiency, and speed.
2: Focus on FinOps
Data analytics can be used to identify trends and patterns in financial data, such as expenses and revenues, which can help a firm optimise its financial operations. For example, data analytics can be used to identify unnecessary expenses that can be eliminated or to identify opportunities for cost savings. Data analytics can also be used to improve the accuracy and efficiency of financial processes, such as budgeting, forecasting, and financial reporting. By analysing real-time and historical data, a firm can make more informed predictions about future financial performance and make better decisions about how to allocate their resources.
3: Move compute closer to the data
Few people buy a car these days without having full knowledge of fuel efficiency and running costs, yet for many organisations, this is exactly how they are running their analytics. When working with large datasets, the cost of moving data around - especially when using a public cloud or a data lake - can be significant. Running analytics and other compute-intensive processes as close to where data is created as possible reduces the associated networking, storage, and processing costs.
Overall, better management of data isn’t the panacea for all our economic ills, but it does offer a real and tangible lifeline for organisations in all industries looking to not only weather the current economic storm but also strive for growth. In 2023, there are few if any companies that would not
benefit from taking a more strategic look at their data estate. If it can help in a downturn, imagine what could happen when the good times come back (which they will).