The Quest to uncover unknown & unused ERP data

ERP deployments are highly functional suites, stacks and solutions of always timely, perfectly de-duplicated, parsimoniously parsed and properly presented data blocks.

Except, of course, they’re not.

The typical ERP deployment will have any number of unknown, unused and uncared for pools, streams and lakes of data that fails to form a functional and productive part of what should be live engaged software applications and services.

On a mission – a quest even – to eradicate (or at least help highlight) this issue is Quest Software, a global systems management, data protection and security software provider.

In collaboration with the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), Quest has released its 2022 State of Data Governance and Empowerment Report, an annual analysis highlighting some of the challenges in data governance, data management and DataOps.

Quality over security

The report suggests that data quality has overtaken data security as the top driver of data governance initiatives, with 41% of those surveyed agreeing that their business decision-making relies fundamentally on trustworthy, quality data. 

At the same time, however, 45% of IT leaders say that data quality is the biggest detractor from ROI in data governance efforts. While they recognize its importance, they’re struggling to improve the quality of their data… and thus the ability to strategically and maximally leverage data in practice.

Now then, these are suggestions from a survey that has (arguably, probably, usually) been aligned to provide answers to suit the message set of the company whose name sits behind it – in this case Quest Software.

Oh no, not a survey

It should be no surprise (therefore) to see a firm that sells products spanning data visibility and IT asset management with accompanying cybersecurity resilience functions finding results like this in a market scoping exercise.  

“Business users at all technical levels have an edge when they have full visibility into, control over and confidence in their data,” said Patrick Nichols, CEO of Quest Software. “Trustworthy data and efficient data operations have never been more influential in determining the success or failure of business goals. When people lack access to high-quality data and the confidence and guidance to use it properly, it’s virtually impossible for them to reach their desired outcomes.”

The report also revealed, ah-hem, sorry, suggested… that business leaders struggle not only to make sense of their data, but to locate it and use it in the first place, with 42% of survey respondents saying at least half of their data was so-called dark data – retained by the organization, but unused, unmanageable and unfindable. 

An influx in dark data in ERP systems or otherwise and a lack of data visibility often leads to downstream bottlenecks, impeding the accuracy and effectiveness of operational data.

While the challenges of data visibility and observability differ across industries, DataOps was overwhelmingly recognized as the primary solution to drive forward data empowerment. 9 in 10 people surveyed agreed that strengthening DataOps capabilities improves data quality, visibility and access issues across their businesses.

A data-first culture

As we now embark on the road to what the industry loves to call a data-first culture – fueled by automation in DataOps processes, high-quality data, holistic governance and enterprise-wide accessibility – we will inevitably hear more of these messages.

The real challenge now, perhaps, is making sure that we don’t create so much discussion around ERP’s dark data depths that we fail to actually address the challenge and the quest (pun quite definitely intended) for light on the road ahead.

The State of Data Governance and Data Empowerment Report is available free here.