The discussion about data in the enterprise is often short on actual data and long on fuzzy, hyperbolic adjectives. Think “massive,” “overwhelming,” and “oceanic.” (Even “huge.”)


So, here’s a data point that puts the current state of information technology in sharp numeric focus: Between 2014 and 2016, the number of Fortune 1000 firms planning to spend more than $50 million on data initiatives in the next year quintupled from 5 percent to 25 percent, according to a survey from NewVantage Partners.


Data is not only what drives the modern enterprise; data is becoming the enterprise. In this new world, data visionaries will have a leading role in transforming their organizations, creating and dominating new business models, and forging the new industries of tomorrow.


So how do you know whether you’re a data visionary, or on your way to becoming one? Here are some ways to measure your progress.



You think about data in new ways. In the early days of IT, most data was high-value transactional information. Because it had to be highly available and highly redundant, storing and managing it was expensive, and organizations could only keep the latest, most readily accessed data. Today, enterprises are collecting exponentially more data — much of which has an expiration date — so flexibility and agility are key.


You ask questions others don’t. Your deep knowledge of data technologies allows you to help your organization learn more about its customers, reduce costs, and boost efficiency. But you also push the envelope with questions like, “What if?” “What else could we do with this data?” “How could we achieve this?” and “How can I help?”


You see new business models. You’re brimming with ideas about turning data into revenue. For example, if you worked for a car company, you might think about how vehicle data could reduce driver insurance rates or maintenance costs while creating a new revenue stream for your company.  Or you could envision using information about a customer’s driving patterns to introduce them to just the right model of car when their lease comes up for renewal.


You don’t trash legacy systems. You’re on top of advances like flash and solid-state drives, and cloud and hybrid environments. But you also know the legacy systems in your data center hold invaluable business data — the lifeblood of today’s enterprise — and can drive revenue and profit to power the business. Rather than scrap these legacy systems, you see them as another data asset to leverage.


You think outside the corporate walls. You’re skilled at lowering barriers to data sharing and breaking down silos. But you also take a broader view, imagining how you might use data from outside the enterprise, for instance, from a supplier, reseller, or government agency.


Data in the enterprise is only going to grow more “massive,” “overwhelming,” and “oceanic.” If you haven’t started thinking differently about the data you manage, now is the time.


This is a journey we’re all on together, and I’d love to hear how you measure your progress toward becoming #datadriven. Tweet me at @DrMarkBregman.


Additional Resources:

Mark Bregman

When Mark Bregman joined NetApp in September 2015, he brought to the company more than 30 years of technology experience and a passion for the process of innovation. He has held C-level and management roles for global firms including Symantec and IBM. Just prior to NetApp, Mark was CTO of SkywriterRX, Inc., an early-stage start-up using machine learning and natural language processing to analyze books. Before that, he held senior positions at Neustar, Symantec, Veritas, AirMedia, and IBM. He began his career at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center.
As NetApp SVP and CTO, Mark leads the company’s portfolio strategy and innovation agenda in support of the Data Fabric, NetApp’s vision for the future of data management. His responsibilities include evaluating where the biggest technical opportunities and risks are and helping to further develop and nurture the NetApp culture of innovation within the engineering team.
Mark is dedicated to addressing the underrepresentation of women in the fields of computer science and engineering. He has served as executive sponsor and an engaged member of the Women in Technology programs at all of his previous places of employment. Since 2009, he has served as a director of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. He also serves on the boards of the Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium, ShoreTel, Inc., and SkywriterRX, Inc. He is a former member of the Naval Research Advisory Committee, a member of the American Physical Society and a senior member of IEEE. Mark holds a PhD, an MA, and an MPhil in physics from Columbia University and a BA in physics from Harvard College.

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