Opinion:The Human Element Remains Critical in Data Management Service and Support

While many organisations have moved large portions of their IT infrastructure, including data storage and backup, into the cloud, this does not mean that it will manage itself. Data management remains the responsibility of the creator of the data, and skills are still required to ensure the architecture is running smoothly and to monitor changes. Although automation is advanced and constantly evolving, and it can enhance solutions, having the right support and services around data management remains critical for business continuity and competitive advantage.

Data does not sleep

When it comes to data management support and services, there are different models available for different business types. For example, enterprises tend to invest in internal support staff, whereas some organisations opt for a subscription-based approach that can be renewed annually. In either situation, data needs to be protected from multiple threats, including hardware failure, accidental deletion, and the myriad of security threats that exist today.

However, while businesses understand the need for service and support around data management, especially data protection, many organisations tend toward a ‘business hours only’ approach with limited support. The main reason for this is that there is often a substantial cost difference between this type of support and a 24/7 model, but the reality is that data does not sleep, and in the current working environment, many people work outside of what is considered to be regular business hours. When hardware crashes or data is accidentally deleted over a weekend, and support contracts only cover from 8:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday, businesses are at the mercy of the goodwill of their support provider to go above and beyond the scope of their contract.

Backup is only half the battle

Data management services and support can take on different forms depending on business needs, from full managed services offering proactive end-to-end data management, to reactive support that works in conjunction with internal IT teams to specifically handle data management.

Regardless of the model used, one thing businesses need to keep in mind is the fact that data management is only as good as the ability to restore the data. If data is not actively managed and monitored, then warning signs may fall through the cracks, and if data cannot be restored from the backup, the backup is useless. Even if backups are automated, they need to be tested otherwise organisations risk all the repercussions that go along with data loss.

Using data management for business advantage

Despite the importance of backup and recovery, the real value of data management comes from how well-managed data supports the analytics that organisations need to drive insight and business intelligence. Data can be used to identify business, customer and market trends, understand customer requirements, make better business decisions, and ultimately drive greater productivity and profitability.

However, if data is not effectively managed, it cannot be used for these purposes, and additionally, businesses are at risk of compliance and security challenges. While new, automated tools can assist businesses to take care of their data on a certain level, specialist skills remain an essential part of a comprehensive data management service.

By Mohammed Sayed, Service Delivery Manager at DMP South Africa

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