People are the most critical asset a company has. The second, according to Hitachi Vantara CEO Brian Householder, is your data.

Speaking at his company’s annual user conference in San Diego today, Householder argued data is the most underutilised asset inside a company. Gartner analyst Doug Laney has argued a similar point, noting companies have a better inventory of their office furniture than their information assets.

During his keynote Householder argued, “Every company needs to leverage technology and data to run their business.”

“There’s a whole new game being played and that game centres around data. Data is changing the basis of how we compete,” Householder said. “Those with the best data strategy — and can execute on that strategy — will win”

Hitachi Vantara is wholly owned subsidiary of Japanese giant Hitachi. The business was formed 12 months ago, bringing together Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Insight Group and Pentaho, with the goal of becoming a data intelligence company – not just a data infrastructure provider.

The company has over 10,000 customers and works with 85 per cent of Fortune Global 100 companies. Householder, who was appointed to the role of CEO in January, said Hitachi Vantara’s clients typically only analyse less than 5 per cent of their data.

The pitch to businesses here is: let us help you make the most of the other 95 per cent of your data to stay competitive.

“Their biggest competitive advantage centres around their data — if they can take advantage of it,” Householder said.

“If you are worried about start-ups competing in your environments, [think about] how much would they love to have your data? Have access to your data? Be able to analyse it, know what you know about your customers and the market?”

Citing research from Harvard Business Review, Householder said data leaders have increased growth and agility, decreased costs and improved regulatory compliance. Meanwhile McKinsey has forecast organisations that can use technologies such as artificial intelligence to gain actionable insights from data can expect revenue to grow by 10 per cent.

Silo barriers

Householder highlighted three barriers which hold most companies back: data silos, organisational silos and cultural silos.

Data silos are created by older architecture where data is created within an application and is “stranded” on a particular piece of infrastructure, Householder said.

“Data lakes are a good start, but are a small fraction of overall environment,” he said.

On the organisational front, businesses need to align and integrate their overall strategies so they’re working on the right areas to deliver the biggest value for their customers.

And the most important area, according to Householder, is the cultural change required to become data-driven. He urged the audience to spark a mindset change within their own organisations.

Now more than ever, it is important to attract and retain the right talent in the right roles, Householder said.

“In this new world economy around data, talent is becoming more and more critical and more and more scarce.”

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