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The benefits of data minimalism

Image: Adobe Stock / KanawatTH

The exponential increase in energy costs across the UK has brought a significant challenge for data-driven businesses in the form of mounting costs of managing operations. The truth is, data is not free, and neither is its upkeep.

By 2025 the global ‘datasphere’ is estimated to reach a staggering 180 zettabytes (according to Statista), and the cloud computing market is expected to hit $1.95 trillion by 2032. Both of these estimations lead us to one conclusion: the datasphere will continue to grow and with this, it’s likely that by 2030 we may surpass a yottabyte (equivalent to a million trillion megabytes) of data generated in a single year.

The repercussions of this data explosion are already being felt, as last summer witnessed a surge in electricity consumption, pushing data centres – which consume the energy equivalent to thousands of households – dangerously close to overloading London’s power grid and causing potential power outages in housing developments. 

That is why it is more important than ever to first closely examine how to reduce the data businesses hold before moving this into potentially more sustainable cloud environments to ultimately reduce their carbon emissions. 

The strategic value of data 

The value of data is, however, beyond dispute. The way we generate and use data isn’t going to disappear from our lives, so businesses must find ways to identify potential infrastructure savings and eliminate waste.

From both an environmental and a bottom-line perspective, data waste is staggering. Shockingly, poor data storage practices are costing the private sector close to £3.7 billion each year, with up to 70% of the data generated by organisations seemingly destined to remain unused. Causes vary from data being trapped in silos, conflicting formats, or simply serving no purpose beyond its original creation. This not only results in a squandering of valuable resources but also highlights the urgent need for better data management strategies to optimise usage and minimise waste. 

One answer could be to migrate data and workloads to the public cloud, utilising the resources of hyperscalers such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Thanks to their ability to operate at scale and invest in cutting-edge data centre infrastructure, these providers are potentially better equipped to swiftly progress towards achieving net zero targets. 

But, migrating data isn’t the only answer. Businesses also need to consider data minimalism when using the cloud. 

Data minimalism 

For businesses seeking to minimise their environmental impact and lower costs, building a strong digital presence, and cultivating digital assets is crucial.

As they become more data-driven and improve their business processes, they must create an environment that encourages the use of digital technology. Adopting a data strategy with data minimalism as its foundation is a systematic and effective way to achieve this. 

By only storing necessary data, businesses can reduce costs and make strides towards meeting Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) targets. It’s time for businesses to prioritise sustainability and embrace the power of digital technology to build a better future for us all.

A practical approach to data minimalism

So how can businesses refine and evolve their data strategy to ensure they are practising data minimalism? Well, it starts with truly understanding the data footprint they have. 

This includes identifying how much data is on-premises or in other locations, as well as determining what data is necessary to collect and how it’s being used. Having visibility across your data stack is essential for on-premises, hybrid cloud and cloud environments – helping in identifying unnecessary, inactive, and duplicated data which frees up storage space and subsequently reduces carbon emissions. 

Businesses should also differentiate between mission-critical data and data that can be retained on an archive basis. Once they have this understanding, they then can make informed decisions about their data strategy. 

Bringing on a trusted advisor can be helpful at this stage to provide extra support and identify ways to improve efficiency, such as consolidating storage locations. 

While cloud computing isn’t a complete fix for environmental challenges, in many cases it’s still a step in the right direction. By tapping into vendor expertise, businesses can make smarter decisions about their data, cut energy costs, and reduce their carbon footprint. It is why cloud solutions offer a potentially more cost-effective and eco-friendly way forward, making sure that companies can minimise their impact on the planet while still meeting their data needs.

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