There is truth to the cliché that information is power. Effective use of information wins wars, enables technological development, empowers the creativity and productivity in people, and can make or break a business.
An ongoing problem in businesses both large and small, is an inability to make global use of its information because of data fragmentation. This is not the data fragmentation that occurs in computer hard drives, instead it is data dispersed and trapped within incompatible databases, software files, and devices. This problem is getting worse with the growth of business software tools, increasing use of personal devices, and use of cloud data storage.
Examples of the Impact of Data Fragmentation
- Health Care – Patient records aren’t shareable among doctors and clinicians using different electronic health record systems. This is sometimes harmful to patient care because of treatment delays and missed or incorrect diagnoses.
- Industrial Environments – Large manufacturing operations as well as electric and gas utilities utilize sensors and controls that produce operating data which cannot flow to other systems for more efficient operation of the entire plant or into a common database to enable a holistic view of the big picture.
- Business Environments – Data stored locally within different departments, on the hard drives of individual devices, and in the cloud make interdepartmental cooperation difficult and hinders high level decision-making because company wide data is inaccessible from a common database.
Where Data Is Stored
- The hard drives of company owned computers
- The hard drives of personal laptops and notebooks
- USB drives and memory sticks
- Personal tablets and mobile devices
- Cloud storage – Data may be stored in one location, across the United States, or the world.
- The data centers of SaaS providers
In addition to the decision-making and employee productivity problems mentioned above, the lack of integrated data wastes the company’s data storage because of duplicated information, creates security problems with sensitive and proprietary information, and creates legal problems around data discovery. Data fragmentation also hinders global big data exploitation of all of a company’s data. Many surprising and beneficial insights are discovered by looking for global patterns across the company’s data.