I’ve said before that data isn’t just at the heart of most businesses; in many ways, data is the business. The question of where that data should live, on-premises or in the cloud, is one that many organizations continue to grapple with. But experts say that when it comes to data, where it resides matters less than what you do with it. As Lydia Leong, a Gartner analyst known online as the Cloud Pundit, explains to us, it’s a mistake for businesses to think of the cloud as “just another data center strategy." Instead, they should start by defining their business objectives, then examine whether the cloud gives them the best opportunity to achieve those objectives.
In addition to its easy scalability, one of the cloud’s virtues is the access it gives organizations to sophisticated tools, including advanced data analytics. That was the case for Takeuchi US, a manufacturer of construction equipment, which gains insights from Qlik’s cloud-based software on topics such as county-level sales, which company leaders share with dealers around the country through a web-based portal. “Our sales staff can say, ‘Look at your dashboard. Did you see that? You need to focus on this,’” Susan Dean, the company’s business technology director, tells us.
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Think of Data as a Problem Solving Tool
Care.com uses a cloud-based application monitoring tool from Splunk to gain visibility into the back-end services that support its business. For both Takeuchi US and Care.com, the cloud makes visible things that are otherwise hard to see, enabling leaders to take early action to capitalize on opportunities or avoid problems.
Still, for all its advantages, businesses should think carefully about how they deploy cloud. Leong notes that too many organizations continue to see cloud as a shortcut to solving problems that it was never meant to address. “Cloud will not fix your mountain of technical debt,” she explains, nor will it solve internal cultural issues or a lack of innovative thinking.
Wherever you put your data, remember to start at the end — that is, the outcome you wish to achieve — and work backward from there. And make sure to have a trusted adviser that can help.
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