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Organizations in Saudi Arabia view data overload as prime barrier to transformation
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 25 - 09 - 2021

Dell Technologies announced the findings of a globally commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting titled, 'Unveiling Data Challenges Afflicting Businesses Around The World'. The study, shows that for most businesses, data has become their most valuable business asset but are overwhelmed with the sheer volume, velocity and variety of data.
Based on a survey with 4,036 data decision-makers from 45 locations including KSA, the findings build upon the biennial Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index study, which assesses the digital maturity of businesses around the globe. The 2020 DT Index revealed that "data overload/unable to extract insights from data" was the prime barrier to transformation, up from 12th place in 2016.
Dell Technologies commissioned the study with Forrester Consulting to understand why and how we can stop data from becoming one of the key barriers to transformation. These findings were revealed at the Dell Technologies Forum Middle East 2021, the company's flagship event that brings together senior decision-makers and industry think tanks to discuss emerging trends, challenges, and new growth opportunities in the Middle East's dynamic technology sector.
The study identifies several data paradoxes affecting businesses today, including:
1. The Perception Paradox
70 percent of the KSA respondents say their business is data-driven and state "data is the lifeblood of their organization." But only 19 percent testify to treating data as capital and prioritizing its use across the business. To provide some clarity, Forrester Consulting created an objective measure of businesses' data readiness.
The results show that 91 percent of KSA businesses are yet to progress either their data technology and processes and/or their data culture and skills. Only 9 percent of businesses are defined as Data Champions: companies that are actively engaged in both areas (technology/process and culture/skills).
2. The "Want More Than They Can Handle" Paradox
According to the research, 59 percent in KSA say they are gathering data faster than they can analyze and use, yet 71 percent say they constantly need more data than their current capabilities provide. This could be because:
• 57 percent are guarding a significant amount of their data in data centers they own or manage, despite the known benefits of processing data at the edge – where the data is generated.
• An IT strategy that doesn't scale: 47 percent are bolting on more data silos, rather than consolidating what they have.
Consequentially, the explosion in data is making it challenging to meet business requirements with 70 percent of respondents stating that their teams are already overwhelmed by the data they currently have.
"In a digital economy, data is one of the most valuable business assets, yet today, it stands to be a significant barrier to growth. Navigating this modern-day paradox, and turning vast amounts of data into actionable outcomes can seem daunting especially when on a path to digital transformation.
"At Dell Technologies, we empower regional organizations to tackle these concerns by offering tailored end-to-end infrastructure solutions that not only support a data-driven work culture that is capable of predicting the future but is also equipped to harness data to achieve better business results, faster," said Mohamed Talaat, vice-president, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Levant, Dell Technologies.
3. The "Seeing Without Doing" Paradox
While economies have suffered during the pandemic, the on-demand sector has expanded, igniting a new wave of data-first, data-anywhere businesses. However, the number of businesses that have moved the majority of their applications and infrastructure to an as-a-service model is still small (17 percent). The report also cites that an on-demand model would help 89 percent of organizations in KSA that are currently struggling with either or all of the following barriers to better capture, analyze and leverage data.
Hope on the Horizon
Although businesses are struggling to adopt robust data management strategies, many have plans to create a better tomorrow: In KSA, 73 percent intend to deploy machine learning to automate how they detect anomaly data, 61 percent are looking to move to a data-as-a-service model and 58 percent are planning to look deeper into the performance stack to rearchitect how they process and use data.
Three ways businesses can turn their data burden into a data advantage include:
1. Modernize their IT infrastructure, so it meets data where it lives, at the edge. This incorporates bringing businesses' infrastructure and applications closer to where data needs to be captured, analyzed and acted on — while avoiding data sprawl, by maintaining a consistent multi-cloud operating model
2. Optimize data pipelines, so data can flow freely and securely while being augmented by AI/ML
3. Develop software to deliver the personalized, integrated experiences customers crave.
Data management is central to an organization and its growth. Therefore, a solution should provide the global scale that businesses need as their application workloads and data. — SG

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