Data hoarding dilemma and the costs of clinging to the past

UC 1819 Learning Lab hosts Innovation Buzz forum with industry experts

Unlocking the full potential of technology transcends mere cost savings — it represents a strategic foundation for strengthening an organization's overall vitality and effectiveness.

In a thought-provoking event held at the University of Cincinnati's 1819 Innovation Hub, experts from prominent organizations such as AHEAD, Fortified and the 1819 Learning Lab converged to discuss the transformative power of technology in unlocking business value. The gathering served as a forum for engagement, where participants — including 1819 partners, UC faculty, staff and students — explored the intricate intersection of business and technology.

RJ Sargent, executive director of learning services for the Office of Innovation at UC, organized the event.

“At 1819, we’re always looking for opportunities to help our partners maximize their innovation potential. We often lean into the future, helping our partners stay on top of emerging trends, however, the recent Innovation Buzz was an opportunity to look back. Our goal is to ensure the innovation community is maximizing their investments in data and technology and making smart decisions to enable future growth and scale,” Sargent said.

The panelists

Panelists answer questions from attendees.

Panelists answer questions from attendees during the Innovation Buzz forum at the 1819 Innovation Hub. Photo/Aidan Wallace

Sargent served as a panelist alongside Ben DeBow, a distinguished alumnus of the UC Lindner College of Business, and David Washo, a partner in AHEAD’s advisory and consulting practice. These thought leaders shared invaluable insights on the strategic use of data and technology to enhance organizational efficiencies and maintain competitiveness in today's dynamic business landscape. Additionally, they provided guidance on improving customer satisfaction in the face of rapid technological evolution.

Drawing on his personal experience, DeBow illustrated his talk by recounting his internship at Great American Insurance over 30 years ago. He emphasized to the audience that, even then, the organization had already embraced online operations for nearly 20 years.

"It's important to recognize that most organizations have at least 50 years of technology to support and keep on modernizing by utilizing other technologies such as AI, ML and blockchain," said DeBow. "The significant challenge lies in finding a balance between supporting legacy systems from the past while simultaneously innovating and developing new capabilities and technologies for the future.”

Balancing act

This theme of balancing old and new data initiated a discussion among panelists about the ongoing challenges of deciding which data to purge and which to retain.

The focus shifted to data governance capability, involving the corporate objective of effectively managing data as a crucial asset compared to quantifying the costs associated with inaction — a subject with which Washo is well-acquainted.

Drawing on the analogy of the TV show "Hoarders," Washo remarked, "We often observe this behavior in organizations that cling to outdated data 'just in case.' Our role is to assist organizations in eliminating this 'technical' debt. We analyze and articulate the costs linked to each application, revealing to executives the extent of their legacy database across the ecosystem and how it translates into millions of dollars in expenses. Communicating in terms of revenue is language executives readily comprehend."

Cutting-edge technologies like AI, data analytics and machine learning are advancing at an astonishing pace. However, there needs to be more alignment between the evolution of these technologies and the comparatively stagnant information technology budgets of organizations.

Some IT professionals at the event voiced the dilemma of being expected to maintain support for antiquated data while simultaneously driving efficiencies through implementing new models to meet future technology requirements. 

At 1819, we’re always looking for opportunities to help our partners maximize their innovation potential.

RJ Sargent Executive Director of Learning Services, UC Office of Innovation

Show me the money

Ben DeBow ansswers audience questions. Photo/Aidan Wallace

Ben DeBow ansswers audience questions during the Innovation Buzz forum at the 1819 Innovation Hub. Photo/Aidan Wallace

DeBow emphasized the need to integrate monetary values into the discourse surrounding data.

"The universal language we all understand is money. The financial decisions we make today regarding technology have lasting impacts," he said.

DeBow further highlighted an opportunity for technology leaders to foster understanding by educating executive decision-makers about the costs associated with building and designing efficient applications, for instance. He urged leaders to contemplate the future consequences for the organization over the next two decades based on the current technology design and financial decisions.

This encompasses:

  • Cultivating a more efficient technology environment
  • Enhancing server resource productivity
  • Providing enhanced financial transparency into technology costs
  • Optimizing system scalability, performance and stability

Panelists unanimously agreed that these focal areas are critical for the sustainability and longevity of organizations navigating the ever-changing technological landscape. Participants appreciated the diverse perspectives shared during the event and the importance of collaboration and innovation in driving positive change. 

A good read

One of the highlights after the event was a book signing session featuring DeBow, who shared his insights and experiences as the author of, "End of Abundance in Tech." The book delves into the evolving technology landscape, exploring both challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Overall, the event facilitated knowledge-sharing, unlocking significant business value and offering a networking platform for participants to engage with industry leaders and peers.

Featured image at top: Panelists at the Innovation Buzz forum at the 1819 Innovation Hub. Photo/Aidan Wallace

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