Productivity killer: Disconnected data is holding workers back

By Scott Behles

A productive business is, more often than not, a successful one, and a productive employee is a happy employee. While the modern business world is, admittedly, a little more complex than this, these truisms still hold water.

However, as noted by McKinsey, productivity growth in G20 nations has been stagnating, which is no doubt causing worry for governments, businesses, and their employees.

But why is productivity slowing to a crawl? After all, we live in a time of unparalleled technological advancement, where digital transformation projects have been specifically designed to boost organizational speed and agility, and make our working lives easier and more productive.

As the second part of our study into disconnected data reveals, businesses are struggling to access and integrate enterprise data across their ever-growing number of applications and systems. Turning the systems that are meant to help us into those that, ultimately, harm productivity.

Nearly all of our respondents (98%) in the study indicated that they were involved in projects that rely on company data from multiple systems and departments, using seven different business apps and systems regularly. Those in IT use, on average, more than business users (eight compared to five), and companies in the financial services sector use even more, clocking in with an average of nine apps.

This is too much data and too many systems for man alone to handle. By overloading employees with multiple systems and not properly integrating the data, it inevitably means much of the painstaking work searching for data, completing data entry, data processing and analysis, and integration will fall to an employee or employees. This, of course, is not the quickest or most efficient means of performing this kind of task and creates a greater likelihood of error. It also detracts from more value-add and mentally stimulating work.

Shockingly, nine out of ten business users we asked said they’re involved in performing these mind-numbing tasks and, unsurprisingly, nearly two-thirds (61%) of our respondents expressed frustration that projects suffer delays caused by poor integration of data.

The impact of sub-par data integration on productivity can be significant, particularly for large businesses like those we surveyed. All in all, businesses are wasting 19 working days a year, per employee, by asking their skilled employees to perform these rote tasks, while simultaneously frustrating their workforce.

What’s likely most frustrating for employees is that they’re aware that the route to greater productivity lies in better data integration, but not enough is being done to address it.  Nearly two-thirds of our respondents stated that poor data integration practices, which are too often manual and sidestep automation, are negatively impacting productivity, and an overwhelming majority (91%) pointed to connecting data, applications and systems as an important move for their organization. In fact, over a third – likely the most heavily burdened with manual data tasks – see it as essential. Our respondents speculate that, if these data gaps were closed, they could see a 28% boost in efficiency on average.

When businesses invest in digital transformation projects to improve efficiency, productivity and competitive edge, they have to take a long term view of how new systems and apps will interact with each other. Burdening their employees with the onerous task of manually migrating data between various systems easily counteracts any productivity benefits for which these new tools were implemented in the first place, and serve to frustrate and bore their skilled employees. Remember, when all’s said and done, a productive employee is a happy employee.

To review the full results of our study, download “The Productivity Pains of Disconnected Data.

Miss the first part of our study? Read “The High Cost of Disconnected Data.”

Scott Behles is Head of Corporate Communications at SnapLogic. Follow him on Twitter @sbehles.

Disconnected data is a drag on innovation

By Scott Behles

What do you consider to be a business’ most valuable asset? Is it the cash it holds? Product inventory? Property perhaps? In the pre-internet age, these traditional assets may have supported businesses and could be easily accounted for on an organization’s balance sheet, but the lifeblood of the 21st-century organization is, without question, data.

Whether it’s customer data, financial data, or increasingly machine data, the insights that can be gleaned from an organization’s data repository are invaluable in developing new products and services, deciding the future roadmap for a business, and gaining competitive advantage.

But are businesses taking full advantage of the data at their fingertips? Particularly in larger enterprises with multiple departments, global offices, and disparate IT systems, data often remains relegated to the department that is considered its primary owner. The finance department handles the accounting data while customer data stays with the marketing and sales teams, for instance.

It’s an antiquated way of handling things, and one that means company leaders and other business decision makers rarely see the full picture of what’s going on across the organization, leading to stifled innovation, unforeseen market threats, and missed opportunities.

Convincing business leaders that this is a serious problem can be a tough sell though. Unless you can assign a dollar figure to how significantly disconnected data is negatively impacting a business, you’ll likely not get much of a reaction.

Thankfully, our new Disconnected Data research has done just that.

We surveyed 500 businesses users and IT decision makers in large businesses across the US and UK and found that the wasted time and resources, duplication of work, and missed opportunities caused by disconnected data is collectively costing businesses $140 billion annually.

That stat alone might raise eyebrows, but when we dug a little deeper we uncovered that this issue in large businesses is likely having a far greater impact.

First, more than one-fifth were unaware of what data other departments actually held and one in six didn’t even know how many data sources actually existed. Against this backdrop, it’s even more surprising to learn that, on average, workers were spending more time searching for, acquiring, entering, or moving data than actually analyzing and making decisions on the data. Workers spending most of their time collecting some but not all data, and at the expense of possibly not incorporating it into their decision-making, paints less than a rosy picture for large businesses’ data-driven strategies.

To their credit, most of our respondents are aware of this problem. More than half (57%) admitted that their organization is struggling with data silos and nearly the same percentage said that data silos are a barrier to meeting their organization’s business objectives.

The business objectives most affected? Seizing new opportunities and driving innovation. A shocking 72% felt that siloed data was causing their business to miss out on opportunities, and a third stated that it was holding back innovation in product and services.

For us here at SnapLogic, that last stat is the real stinger. We firmly believe that innovation should be priority #1 for any business that wants to succeed and thrive in today’s fast-moving digital era. Without innovation, products and services won’t evolve which means customers won’t benefit from the latest developments and will start to look elsewhere. If a business can’t innovate, then its days are numbered. If disconnected data is standing in the way of that innovation, it’s a problem that must be solved. And quickly.

To read our complete study on “The High Cost of Disconnected Data,” to get all the details.

Scott Behles is Head of Corporate Communications at SnapLogic. Follow him on Twitter @sbehles