Delayed Access to Data Directly Affects Productivity
Total Cost of Ownership is not just the purchase and maintenance costs but also include productivity, opportunity for revenue, and operational effectiveness.
Noemi Greyzdorf
Published on June 24, 2021

In finance, opportunity cost of capital is defines as the potential benefits misses out on when choosing one alternative over another. The same concept may be applied to productivity cost associated with data access. Typically, productivity is limited to the time actual work is being performed, but in situations where work can't commence until data becomes available, there is an opportunity cost to time lag. This opportunity cost can be expressed in missed revenues, loss of market differentiation and innovation, or unintended costs of production and liabilities.

Delays in to time to business outcomes is a function of time to data access where business outcomes depend on insights, content, and timely decisions. If data has to be moved or copied before it can be consumed, the productivity delay is the time required to transfer data to where applications reside. On a 1Gbps network link, transferring 1TB of data over TCP/IP with >30ms latency may take 22+ hours. Using UDP would cut this time by 25%-35%. On a network with more bandwidth and more latency, the results may be even worse.

Recently, an animation studio calculated that its 60 animators wasted at minimum 30 minutes every morning waiting for the needed content to download. That is near $400,000 worth of productivity wasted each year.

In many industries, access to data is one step in a series of steps that define a workflow where output of one process is input to the next process. The delay of getting data as input anywhere along the workflow path adds undesirable delays and productivity losses.

An instrument in a life sciences lab running an experiment that takes hours or even days to complete benefits from having its output analyzed in throughout the process to ensure data being generated is good. Waiting until the process completes to assess the quality of the output may require you to discard results and wait for the instrument to become available to rerun the experiment. This can be a delay of days, weeks or months in drug discovery, energy synthesis, or scientific discovery.

The productivity costs incurred by time delays are not only in hours sitting idle, but also in costs of associated with poor, uninformed decisions being made. Costs of patients waiting for imaging results; costs associated with lack of actions being taken to stave off a fire or predict an accident. 

First step in improving opportunity cost of data access is to establish organization's Access Time Objectives. This is a metric can serve as a guide to designing processes and infrastructure to support optimal time to data access, thus improving productivity and revenue potential.