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December 02, 2016

NFL Athletes as Metaphor for How to Get Business Accomplished

By Special Guest
Joe Dupree, Vice President of Marketing, Cleo Communications

The 2016 NFL season has revealed interesting insights about today’s players.  For one, linemen, in particular, seem to be getting bigger and faster.  Gone are the days of just putting the largest players on the line of scrimmage to plug gaps.  Now, these linemen need quickness to defend against misdirects and non-traditional formations.

Something akin is happening with data in the modern enterprise.

Meaningful Data

It’s no secret that file sizes are increasing along with the amount of data being generated today. Even the average website has doubled in size in the past three years. Data and files are getting larger, yet still must get from point A to point B in an expedited fashion. It can no longer be the big, slow data it once was, but enterprises still fail to fully embrace the agility component.

So how do companies embrace data agility? Like the 32 NFL teams, the modern enterprise must adapt to this new era and cultivate assets that can nimbly move where they can most benefit. In the people sense, this often means new diets, adjustments to players’ strengths and cardio training regimens, and even new technology. In business, this often means turning to next-generation technology solutions that can solve current and future needs.

But why even bother? Data only benefits organizations if it means something. Organizations are finding that they must collect data – structured and unstructured – from a variety of disparate sources, and this data must be “in shape” to fit their needs. It cannot sit fat and idle around the office and still be counted upon for results.

Companies are actually great at this part, the gathering of the data. It’s the moving of these large data sets, to where they can be of benefit, that’s the greater battle. Unfortunately, that’s often an afterthought. Whether it’s automated, structured EDI information pouring out of your internal applications or the unstructured customer and social data pulled from a data lake or data warehouse, all of this information must integrate seamlessly to enable faster, better business decisions.

The Lack Thereof

So what happens when your big data isn’t agile data? Lots:

  • A big hit: Think of the quarterback getting blind-sided because his left tackle missed a block. Major blows to an organization can add up when a security vulnerability or an industry pivot is missed, something data can indicate ahead of time. Agile (News - Alert) data doesn’t get caught flat-footed.
  • Data bloat: Too much information without a way to use it means it is just clutter. If this is true for your organization, then congratulations, your business has become an episode of A&E’s “Hoarders.” That means you’re paying for storage and bandwidth for something you’ll never use. In the business world, there’s no limit to how much data you can have in play (aside from network and storage limits), but throwing more “guys on the field” won’t help your cause if they’re not coordinated.
  • Competitive edge: It is one thing to not gain yardage, but your organization could actually lose ground to the competition if you’re not employing all of the data at hand and in a forward-looking manner. Agile data grants businesses a competitive edge.

Data Agility

The paradigm shift we’re witnessing is that size alone doesn’t matter. Data agility is just as important (if not more important), and that trait enables massive amounts (i.e., big) data to be organized, calculated, and insightful. Look into a data integration strategy that includes enterprise-grade scalability and high-speed data transfer as a foundation, where even the biggest data becomes leaner and more useful.

The bottom line: Modern enterprises – and NFL teams – have little use for large and slow.

About the Author

Joe Dupree is the Vice President of Marketing at Cleo, a maker of enterprise data integration, managed file transfer and Big Data Gateway (News - Alert) solutions.  He can be reached at

Edited by Alicia Young

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