Knowing your data means knowing your business. Your data platform is what gains you that knowledge. Data has become one of the most valuable assets for organizations and is increasingly the focus for understanding customers, the market, and future opportunities. What may come as a surprise, however, is that the use of data in driving business decisions translates into a concrete financial advantage.

Consider the findings of a recent IDC study, which identified “financial and productivity benefits directly linked to better data-driven decision making.” In concrete terms, these benefits translate to a $1.6 trillion opportunity over the next four years for organizations that maximize the value from data. That “data dividend” is 6 percent more than companies can expect if they aren’t getting the most value from their data. (“Capturing the $1.6 Trillion Data Dividend,” by Dan Vesset, Henry D. Morris, and John F. Gantz, May 2014.)

This IDC study identifies four key areas of investment, each of which, the study says, “delivers value to organizations and can improve the success of data and analytics projects.” Table 1 lists these for areas and how they benefitted the organizations participating in the study.

Table 1: Key Areas of Investment to Capture the $1.6 Data Dividend

Area of Investment Description  Value when implemented
New Data Types and Sources Adding new data types and sources: e.g., supplementing transactional data with customer behavior/demographics; geolocation applications, mobile devices, social media, document management systems Exceeded expectations by 50 percent more often than organizations that did not expand data types and sources
New Analytics  Expanding the number and type of analytic techniques, e.g., adding predictive analytics , using such techniques as MapReduce with SQL Server Exceeded expectations by 100 percent more often than organizations that did not expand data types and sources
New Users  Expanding the number and type of users with access to the organization’s data and analytics, and outputs  Exceeded expectations by 78 percent more often than organizations that did not expand data types and sources

SQL Server is the world’s most widely used enterprise data platform. If you want to capture the data dividend, The Microsoft data platform delivers the capabilities required and assures you the best Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). SQL Server experts who work with customers every day attest to the value that SQL Server provides to their clients. For example, Kevin Hazzard (a C# MVP and Software Development Practice Leader of SQL Server consulting firm, Linchpin People) speaks from experience when he says, “It’s the stability and price/performance ratio that keeps our customers happy with SQL Server. They are sticking with or moving to Microsoft’s database platform because it’s solid and has a reputation for heavy lifting at a reasonable price.”

Serving Your Data Platform Needs

As you evaluate your current data platform to determine its fitness for helping you thrive in today’s data-driven economy, you’ll hear a lot about each vendor’s features and functionality and what you get for your investment. With all the claims, today, it’s more important than ever that you really understand what you really get from features that sound similar and that you truly see what differentiates one data platform from another. That’s why this blog will be focusing on industry challenges and trends and how you can make decisions that will help you address the today’s needs and future growth.

As SQL Server continues to evolve, you’ll see Microsoft expand and improve on the data platform’s built-in capabilities while remaining focused on ensuring your data’s security, offering the best performance, maintaining mission-critical support, and providing the highest return on investment (ROI) and TCO. To help you understand how SQL Server and the Microsoft data platform can help you collect the data dividend for your organization, let us know what challenges you face, what concerns you have, and what your decision-making process demands. We want to hear from you. Use the comments feature to let us know what you think of this post, or email us at To learn more about getting faster insights from any data, please visit our new data management and analytics site.