In our client diagnostics, we observe that data organization is a major challenge facing companies. Even if you have an ocean of data, if it is not organized, you won’t be able to do much with it. Yet, this topic is often forgotten. Leaders and organizations tend to focus more on data security, data analytics, and data sharing – all of which actually require proper data organization to function well.

We all understand the value of office organization (left picture) to work more efficiently. It is easy to see what we have and don’t have. It is easy to find what we need. The same goes for digital data stored in a company’s IT systems. However, in reality, what we deal with looks more like a mess (right picture). There is often no clear view of what data is there, and how IT systems are connected to each other.

Without proper data organization, it is impossible to do meaningful data analytics, have robust data security, or exchange data efficiently. The dirty secret of data analytics tools is that they require clean and organized data to perform well. This is well known by anyone who actually had to do data analytics (and we’re among them!).

Data organization is closely related to data storage. In order to make intelligent decisions about how to store data (file system, SQL database, or NoSQL) and where to store it (server, data center, or cloud), you need to define first the data structure and ways in which you want to use the data. The success of companies like Amazon or Google relies in large part on their ability to organize and process large amounts of data in a uniform, structured, and clean way.