Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jason Atchley : Data : Why Dormant Data is a Bigger Risk than It Seems

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Why dormant data is a bigger risk than it seems

Image via mrmanc on Flickr.
Fifty percent of the data your company stores probably lacks business, legal and regulatory value. Worse, the total number of an average company’s unstructured data is growing at 60 to 80 percent per year. This data introduces costs and security risks to your IT environment, eats up space in your primary storage and prevents you from making business decisions based on data-driven insights. These issues may seem like inconveniences, but added together, they make dormant data a serious threat to your business and a major obstacle preventing you from transforming data insights into business value.
If this problem sounds familiar, you’re not alone. End users are notorious hoarders when it comes to file versions, disorganized filing systems and sticking with a save-it-all mentality. We can’t blame you for succumbing to the data deluge; the more dormant data you’ve piled up, the more of an undertaking it will be to sift through it, and the more you may begin to fear what lies beneath the surface.
It’s time to stop underestimating the nuisance created by dormant data and start recognizing it as a critical risk that must be addressed. You deserve to know what’s in your data. If you need help getting started, below are some steps that can help get you on track and bring your dark data into the light:
  • Determine which users are consuming the most space
  • Highlight which files haven’t been accessed in months, or even years
  • Locate personal data like hefty music and video files that employees may have saved, even employees who may have since left the company
  • Neutralize risks by locating and securing sensitive and private data
By leveraging data-aware technology, you can quickly visualize and filter files in order to determine their value. However, meeting these primary goals doesn’t mean your effort is over. Educate your team on best practices that help them understand the value of data and better manage its lifecycle, using strategies such as:
  • Data retention policies
  • Expiration dates
  • Data visualization tools
  • Routine archiving and data governance
When your dormant data is under control, you can better understand your end users’ habits and demographics, reduce your production storage footprint and overhead, and save resources like time and money. Most importantly, however, you can protect your data by addressing security risks before you give them a chance to take root.
Browse through DataGravity use cases to check out other ways data-aware storage management can improve your business.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Jason Atchley : Strategy : 4 Things to Consider When Developing a New Innovation Strategy

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Know what to consider prior to crafting an innovation strategy.

June 22, 2015
Attempting to adopt a new strategy can harm an operation if the right strategy isn't applied. The Harvard Business Review noted businesses that employ innovation initiatives tend to not perform or transition very well. However, with a proper innovation strategy, a sales team can set and reach objectives.
"Leading the way and trying something new is how businesses successfully innovate."
Identify goals 
Every sales operation has different goals. Whether management wants to see a higher volume of revenue per sale, an increase in the number of sales leads or create a more suitable sales compensation plan, figuring out these goals will help a business engineer the proper innovation strategy to meet its objectives. 
Create a unique innovation strategy 
HBR emphasized not every operation has the same needs. Adopting an innovation strategy used by another organization won't necessarily drive the desired results. While management professionals can learn a great deal from other organizations' innovation strategies, attempting to utilize the same one may not be as successful for one company as it is for another. 
According to Harvard Division of Continuing Education, leading the way and trying something new is how businesses successfully develop and grow. This is the crux of what an innovation strategy entails, and thinking in a new perspective can help operations reach pre-established objectives.
In addition, it is important to consider whether a new innovation strategy will easily fit with an existing business model or if an operation will need to also adjust its model to accommodate a new strategy. 
Consider customers 
Whether an operation understands its customers determines success. Requesting input or simply becoming more familiar with what individuals want out of an operation can help drive sales productivity. Becoming more attuned to the issues and demands of a customer base can help an operation develop the best innovation strategy for that unique operation. 
Investing the time to evaluate the needs of those who purchase products is paramount. 
Make it routine 
By constantly evolving and adapting, businesses can truly excel. The sales landscape is constantly evolving. Customers' needs and employees' motivators can completely change quickly. Continuing to evaluate and tailor a business strategy to those alterations can help improve the chances of an operation reaching its goals and objectives. 
By constantly evaluating and looking to innovate and change strategies, businesses can bolster their performance. For example, if a sales team has not been performing as it should, management will likely need to consider both the customer needs as well as the needs of the sales team. If the customer wants a more personalized experience, developing a plan to incentivize salespeople to spend more time with each customer may help improve performance. 
Sales incentive compensation can be used to strengthen an operation and increase sales productivity. Identifying exactly how to properly motivate a sales team is key. Management should also be innovative when it comes to compensating sales professionals. 
Innovation drives continual growth and success. By considering these four components, an operation can develop its own unique innovation strategy. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Jason Atchley : Data : The Biggest Data Management Challenge for an IT Director

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The Biggest Data Management Challenge for an IT Director

shutterstock_111695138With great power comes great responsibility, especially when that power is derived from data. Data is a double-edged sword: On one hand, it allows you to preserve potentially valuable information for future use; keep track of past documents, employee and customer interactions; and protect information about the history, development, and organization of your company. On the other hand, data growth rates today can make its maintenance difficult and risky, especially when your employees adopt an “everything is important” attitude toward saving file versions and hoarding data.
The data hoarding mentality refers to the belief that you should never purge your data on the off chance that you’ll need something in the future. Such a mindset produces a well of data that is rarely assessed for relevance or security, resulting in a confusing morass of data with questionable value and high potential risk. When you can’t tell what’s lurking in your dark data, you open yourself up to a slew of security and compliance threats that have the ability to cripple your company’s productivity. As addressed in our latest webinar, “3 Greatest Challenges for Data Management: IT Director’s Perspective,” a compulsive storing mindset can throw obstacles in your company’s path to success that will cause you to redirect and pivot your storage strategies. A webinar I recently hosted with Mark Lamson, director of IT at Westerly Public Schools, and David Stevens, technical marketing manager at DataGravity, tackled this topic, covering how to:
  • Enhance data complexity and security;
  • Increase visibility and understanding of your data sets; and
  • Rein in your data growth and storage utilization.
With 78 percent of data breaches occurring from within an organization, as reported by the Ponemon Institute, it’s becoming abundantly clear that compliance does not always equal security, and that security doesn’t always equal compliance. However, when you better understand how to store and protect data in a way that benefits your company, you can immediately decrease any threats lurking in your dark data.
To find out more on how to overcome the biggest challenges in data management, watch our webinar, “3 Greatest Challenges for Data Management: IT Director’s Perspective.”

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jason Atchley : Analytics : Why Performance Analytics Could Help Improve Employee Retention

jason atchley


March 30, 2015
With the problem of employee retention growing, companies are more likely to rely on performance analytics to better prepare themselves if workers decide to leave their employers, The Wall Street Journal reported. High employee turnover could cost employers thousands, reducing profits and resources to use for existing employees. While there are various reasons why workers would want to leave a company, it's up to employers to determine the cause and react quickly.
Big companies like Wal-Mart are using employee management analytics to determine whether employees are deciding to move on to another employer, according to the Journal. Not only do employers get a better idea of which employees are considering leaving, but they can also identify the source of lower employee retention.
According to LinkedIn, it can cost a company 30 percent to 50 percent of an employee's annual salary to replace an entry-level worker. This percentage is substantially higher for mid-level and high-level employees or workers with special skills. With the high cost of employee turnover, employees should track metrics that could indicate when an employee is close to heading out the door. 
Data collection to improve retention
The types of data employers can collect include how long workers have been with the company, performance statistics and responses to surveys and personality tests.
Companies that use sales effectiveness metrics and other key performance indicators can gain insight into whether employees are engaged with their jobs and whether there are underlying causes to a drop in productivity. When firms suspect that employees are losing interest in their jobs, they could confirm this through worsening key performance indicators, such as lower sales and when employees are less likely to meet their quotas. Without quantitative data like revenue per sale and other measures, employers are less likely to pick up on subtle signals that employees are ready to leave.
If employers are able to detect employees who are more likely to leave, they can ready themselves to find a replacement to reduce any productivity losses that happen during the recruiting and training process for new employees. 
"If we can tell three months in advance [that a position is going to be open], we can start hiring and training people," said Elpida Ormanidou, vice president of global people analytics at Wal-Mart, according to the Journal. "You don't want the jobs vacant for that long a time."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jason Atchley : Data Intelligence : From Five 9s to Five Ws: Why Data Intelligence is the New System Availability

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From five 9s to five Ws: Why data intelligence is the new system availability

Are you still boasting about five-nines availability?
Don’t get me wrong. Achieving five nines, or 99.999 percent availability in a given system, is an incredible achievement for any IT vendor or team. Five nines works out to five minutes and 15 seconds of downtime per year, and when the concept hit the industry and eventually became the standard for service availability, it added immeasurable productivity benefits and backup reassurance to global organizations. However, IT has been building toward a breaking point in recent years, with data security becoming a top concern for technology pros and C-suite executives alike. It’s no longer enough to measure the availability of your data if you don’t know exactly what’s in it.
As you start to have new conversations and priorities surrounding five nines, you can pivot your business strategies and adapt to the shifting security climate by considering something else – the five W’s of your data. When you can answer “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and “why” about your company’s information, you can defend its security and enhance its value. For example, consider the situations outlined below.
  • Who has access to the files on your server? Most exposures and vulnerabilities that result in compromised or stolen data begin within your network, not outside your perimeter. It’s up to you to audit file activity and track user behavior in order to keep your information safe.
  • What predictions can you make based on data activity? Don’t discount the value of the patterns and insights that may come to light when you’re data-aware. For example, user analysis can help your team’s best collaborators, increasing productivity and working toward the same goals your five nines stamp once did. Also, by asking “What,” your organization can move closer to protecting your data. This can help you determine what your people intend to do with those files containing intellectual property (IP) or personally identifiable information (PII) that they have access to.
  • Where is proprietary information, financial data and personally identifiable information (PII) being stored? In our conversations with prospects and partners, we often hear stories about how before they became data-aware, organizations didn’t realize an employee had mistakenly saved sensitive information to the public domain, where it was made available to third-party attackers without the company’s knowledge. Everyone does it. You grab a file from a secure location, work on the spreadsheet for a few hours, close your laptop and take it home. Before long, the file has found its way into an unsecure area and several people could access it. Who knows where it goes from there (although DataGravity does). It’s a harmless act, but it happens all of the time.
  • When was the last time your team accessed each of your files? When most companies max out their storage space, they don’t question the reasons and simply purchase more. However, when your storage is smart enough to let you know how much of that used space contains copies of files and unnecessary user downloads, you can likely forgo the added costs and complexities of new storage add-ons. I am amazed at how many IT professionals walk up to us at events and say that they would spend the budget of an entire storage purchase to know what data is obsolete, who owns it and make a decision on what to do with it to clean up their systems and reduce overhead costs.
  • Why does your data matter? Every organization is storing sensitive data that can jeopardize the security of confidential agreements, IP, personal information and your bottom line. If it’s possible for your data to understand and protect its contents, why not let your storage solution automatically save and secure your data? It is possible thanks to data-aware storage.
I’m not in any way saying that we should stop thinking about data integrity in terms of component redundancy and system availability metrics. I’m advocating an expanded view of data systems to include a security integrity check that enables us to determine in near real-time, what happened to a piece of information and who we need to talk to in order to figure out the purpose.  It shouldn’t take a day to scan data to reproduce an event: it should take a minute. We’re expanding the role and the value of the administrator by giving them tools that address the five W’s, all at the point of storage and all included. It’s pretty simple and pretty smart.
Find out how data-aware storage can apply to various use cases at your company.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Jason Atchley : Strategy : 3 Ways to Improve Strategy Communication

jason atchley


June 22, 2015

Communicating the strategy with salespeople improves their ability to perform and reach goals. The Harvard Business Review noted that without fully understanding the sales plan, employees may not be able to meet benchmarks
By using these three easy techniques to communicate a sales strategy with employees, a business can effectively implement its established sales technique. 
"After hiring strong candidates, properly preparing them is crucial for successful strategy communication. "
1. Train the sales team 
After hiring strong candidates, properly preparing them for the sales process is crucial for successful strategy communication. HBR also notedkeeping the message simple yet deep is crucial, especially when employees are first learning the ropes. Each operation has a core reason why it conducts business and the sales strategy is often a reflection of this. Correlating these two and emphasizing the deeper meaning and intention behind a strategy can help ensure young employees comprehend. 
2. Allow regular conversation and communication
If a salesperson has a question regarding the strategy, it should always be simple to reach out and find answers. Whether someone is available through email, chat, over the phone or in person, giving a resource to all employees is important. 
3. Continue to educate and reinforce 
Employees should not cease learning about the implemented strategy after training. Continual dialog and repeating the connection between the business's purpose and strategy can help ensure a strategy is fully communicated to all salespeople successfully.