“Too often data isn’t being deployed usefully”, comments Nick Stammers, VP UK & EMEA at Ataccama, a unified data management platform.

“It’s simply a burden: redundant, duplicated, irrelevant, hosted on outdated legacy platforms, or too low quality to be of any use.”

I asked Nick about his role at Ataccama, and the data challenges for business leaders right now.

Image credit: Nick Stammers

Tell me a bit about your role with Ataccama…

As VP UK & EMEA, my role is to lead growth and delivery of our data management platform and services across a truly varied continental business landscape. I am based in the UK and whilst we do have a strong focus here, we are seeing growth and opportunity in a host of countries across Northern, Southern and Central Europe. Over the last couple of years, we have witnessed, and often driven, a shift for businesses from merely gathering data to unlocking the actual value of data.

Part of my role is to help business decision makers and data teams to unlock that inherent value. One of the core problems we solve is that many businesses have indiscriminately gathered and stored data, with little respect given to the quality or usefulness of what was captured.

What do companies need to know about data management? What are the biggest challenges related to data and its role?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to businesses’ data needs, but the fundamentals don’t really change. The key ‘mistake’ we see people make is putting off getting their data house in order. Unmanaged data, from a business perspective, is a significant barrier to building strong relationships with customers and spotting the patterns that can help a business futureproof, strategise and grow.

Data is often stored in different systems and silos – leading to conflicts, duplication and errors. Putting off reconciling these issues means businesses are facing an unreliable and flawed picture of their own operations. Imagine a Jane Doe customer where inaccurate sales reporting (from duplicates) leads to poor customer service, where agents have the wrong or incomplete product/contact information. In turn, this means wasted marketing spend trying to reach her with products they’ve already bought – and missed opportunities to upsell where buying history is siloed from their customer record. Automation, consolidation and alignment are the name of the data game in 2022.

Why is data quality so important right now, and how can companies improve this?

Data Quality – note the capitals – isn’t just the quality of data, it’s a recognised term that entails the ‘planning, implementation and control of activities that apply quality management techniques to data to ensure it is fit for consumption and meets the needs of data consumers. Too much data simply isn’t fit for purpose, and that’s in part because many businesses haven’t worked out what actual purpose their data could have. According to DataIQ, only 32% of companies have realised tangible and measurable value from data. That has to change. Companies can make a start by breaking purpose and value down into three distinct subgroups – business value, risk and financial value.

Simply put, is the data able to be used by the right part of the business (i.e. salary data to the HR department), is risk being considered in light of GDPR and broader data regulation, and what financial value is able to be gleaned from the data (particularly for ecommerce businesses)? There’s no time like the present to start a review of the quality of your data – and some tools exist to let businesses of any size do this for free.

How did Covid impact the data management industry, and how did Ataccama navigate this time?

The pandemic accelerated the shift and reliance on big data, and we saw businesses worldwide, regardless of industry, prioritizing greater control over their data across hybrid and cloud environments. The ability to derive deeper and more accurate insights from that data is becoming crucial.

For Ataccama, the pandemic initially slowed down company growth for about six months, but the pent-up demand for our technology compensated for that in the two quarters that followed.

We focused on our core sectors – banking, financial services, insurance, life sciences, healthcare and retail, and in 2021, the company went on to double its annual recurring revenue (ARR). Post-pandemic, the first quarter of 2022 saw us welcoming a new customer every three days.

What differentiates you from other platforms?

Large organizations are struggling to scale and decentralize their data initiatives and enable data democratization, while at the same time keeping their data under control from a quality, governance, privacy and security perspective.

Our platform, Ataccama ONE, unifies data governance, data catalog, data quality and master data management functions across hybrid and cloud environments—enabling organizations to democratize their data while maintaining data accuracy, control and governance. Everything in our platform has been built by us from the ground up so as to ensure that all of the modules of the platform are fully integrated. This means that customers are able to avoid the time, effort and cost that goes into integrating different data management products or solutions through having everything available in a single unified data management platform.

We provide a seamless way to empower both technical and less technical ‘data people’ across organisations to create high-quality, governed, safe and reusable data products.

What trends are likely to impact your industry in the next 12 months?

I can see two specific trends in the data space that are only going to grow in importance before the year’s out.

Firstly – ‘data fabrics’ will become far more common parlance, as businesses realise that giant, disconnected warehouses or lakes of data they own could be better used a bit more joined up. Having a shared data nucleus to manipulate, query and search through will give organisations the insight and strategic advantage they need.

Secondly, we’re seeing businesses better understand the cloud, whether hybrid, public or private, in terms of how to thread their pooled data into one useful cluster. Trust in outsourced security and storage partners will continue to grow as the use cases augment.

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