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Losing anything isn't fun, so it's no surprise that the number of devices that help you find your keys or wallet is growing. If we no longer have to look for our keys or wallet, why do people still struggle to find the latest data for their PowerPoint presentation? Or, if they do find the data they need, why do they need to worry if it is up to date? This is what’s known as data sprawl.

Data, like your keys or wallet, should be easy to find. However, many companies have data coming in from everywhere – different products, customer segments, and suppliers – so it isn't surprising that they have overly complicated environments leading to data sprawl. When data is complex, you get data silos, confusion, and inefficiencies, and worst of all, people don't end up using it.

In the fourth part of our blog series, Data Hurdles [read part onepart two and part three], we look at the problem of locating the latest data and putting an end to data sprawl.

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How Data Sprawl Happens

The data coming in from all these different lines of business is being dumped somewhere and forgotten about, or it ends up siloed in departments. Finance hoards the financial data; sales keep the sales data, and so on. Inefficient organizational processes and structures lead to different departments creating unnecessary copies of datasets. Various lines of business, regions, or even teams end up working on a copy of data that has not been updated in a while or has errors created during the duplication process.

With copies of data scattered around the company, individual departments don't get a full picture of the company, and data often have multiple sources of "truth." For example, data on your corporate system might get refreshed at different times to your other systems. If your data sources don't connect and update seamlessly, two people can be discussing the same dataset but looking at different numbers.

Your customers can also suffer. If departments don't share one source of truth, you can have marketing sending an email to customers based on one data source, and then sales resending it moments later using another data source.

The thing is, collecting data is quite easy, but managing it, extracting insights, and connecting it to the right people can be a struggle. Employees need simple access to the latest copy of the data so they can make better-informed decisions. That’s why it’s crucial to choose a solution that gives you a single source of truth, so everyone stays on the right page.


How to Solve the Data Sprawl Problem

The right data warehousing solution will make sure your data is easy to find. It will centralize all your data connections, give you one source of truth, and empower everyone in the company to get the data they need themselves

Having a data warehouse that’s in the cloud, such as SAP Data Warehouse Cloud, ensures all of your employees can have secure access to your data from any place with an internet service. It also connects all your reports and data in one central location, so everyone sees one real-time version of the truth.

Of course, it’s important that all stakeholders can understand the data – sprawl or no sprawl. That’s why it’s critical to use a business-friendly product with semantics on top of the data so that less technical employees can also make use of it. When business users find the data they want, they won't then need to rely on IT to get it for them. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud makes it easy for anyone to model data, which ensures that the data delivers real value.

With some estimates putting the amount of data being created and collected by 2025 at 175 trillion gigabytes, now is the time to solve data sprawl. If all employees can easily find the data they need and then get it themselves, companies might be surprised by the insights generated.