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Developing an application-centric approach to data management

Data is the currency of digital transformation. Continuous insights are at the heart of driving competitive differentiation. Value is migrating to data because customers are expecting smarter, secure, and personalized products or services.

IDC estimates that 163 zettabytes of data will be created by 2025 and all this data can unleash new opportunities. In EMEA alone the total amount of data produced will grow 5x in size by 2025.

At Actifio’s Data-Driven 2019 conference in Boston in June, it was evident how the enterprise customers in attendance were looking to transform themselves into information businesses or data stewards.

However, what really stood out was how the conversations between customers, partners, and technology providers were less about individual disciplines such as backup or disaster recovery and more about how companies could:

Speaking at the event, the Chief Digital and Data Officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Technology Services and Security said it took the organization nine months to get a data sharing agreement between different departments in place – but just three weeks to analyze it. “Shouldn’t this be reverse?” she asked. “Data is only as good as your ability to use it. We have all this data, and we don’t really know what to do with it, or how to connect that to a mission, or to properly interrogate the data, to get the information users want.”

After taking the necessary steps to address the challenges around data management, governance, and sharing strategies, the public-sector organization is now seeing the results of being “data-driven.” It has improved the customer experience by 30% in one year across multiple departments in areas such as the state’s driver’s license website, new business registration services, employment portals, and taxation services. The customer service improvements were in the form of shorter wait times and faster identification and verification steps, thanks to data sharing practices.

There was an urgency among conference attendees to get their acts together around data management and data capitalization. The conversations were more about “how to” than “why” become a data steward.
However, as more enterprises embark on this journey to become a data-driven business, they face multiple challenges and complexities.

To become data-driven, organizations need to ensure that relevant information is available, accurate, contextualized, granular, and complete. They also need to create the right foundation with a data protection environment. However, data is fragmented more than ever before, spread out across multiple data repositories and multiple infrastructure platforms. In fact, IDC’s latest European research shows that 70% of organizations are operating in multi-cloud environments, and they cite managing data workflows and ensuring unified data management as their top challenges.

The volume and variety of data is also unprecedented. Our research shows that businesses are grappling with data growth of at least 50% every year. Tougher data protection regulations (such as GDPR) and a growing culture of privacy and digital trust are adding to data management complexities.

A paradigm shift is happening in the technology landscape. IDC predicts that in the next four years, 500 million new logical applications will be created – the same number of applications that were created in the last 40 years. These new applications make use of next-generation technologies and practices such as containers, microservices, and agile development methods. These applications will also leverage analytics and will feed off one another in generating data and demanding data.

Such unprecedented changes call for a radical shift in how businesses approach data management. The data protection and recovery market is becoming more dynamic amid key new trends — multicloud, hybrid cloud, the need for better analytics, and most importantly, GDPR compliance. Conversations about backup and disaster recovery (DR) are becoming conversations about security, compliance, and availability.

Those enterprises that evolve beyond looking at individual data protection principles (backup, replication, recovery) to considering continuous application availability are better positioned to respond to the changes. IDC believes that shifting from an infrastructure-centric view of data to an application-centric view of data will enable organizations to become data stewards as they move along their transformation journeys.

At Actifio’s 2019 Data Driven conference, IDC noticed that enterprises were not seeking faster or cheaper backup solutions. They were planning how to align their data strategies alongside other initiatives such as DevOps, data science models, and AI- and ML-driven applications.

Actifio’s key customer segment – large enterprises – were focusing on how to become custodians of data while enabling consumerization of data in an agile and secure way. These organizations truly view data as strategic asset for digital transformation.

Aligning with customers’ maturity around data strategies, Actifio has also evolved from a copy data management provider to a multicloud and hybrid cloud data enabler. At the event, it launched capabilities and enhancements around multicloud disaster recovery, SaaS copy data management platform Actifio GO, deeper integrations with hyperscalers, and an application-centric approach to data management. Its ecosystem partners such as Google, IBM, Wasabi, Datatrends, Fujitsu, and others were also aligned with Actifio to help enterprises become data driven in a multicloud, DevOps-led world.

At the event, WarnerMedia indicated how analyzing viewer data from digital platforms helps it deliver better and more successful entertainment content. Other ambitious large enterprises are undergoing similar journeys. An insurance comparison website in the U.K. purchased a voucher code company to add data from variety of sources into its data science models. A global financial services provider has hired a data science team. Organizations such as DreamWorks Animation identify themselves as a data company: it generates 500 million digital files per film. It is undergoing transformation to make its data and IT environment work at the speed of its “artists’ imaginations.”

How enterprises will navigate through the new demands, pressures, and complexities of the data environments will determine which companies will be Data Thrivers and which ones will be Data Responders in the digital economy.

As with most things, it all starts with the right culture and attitude. At Actifio Data Driven 2019, most attendees had made data capitalization a boardroom priority and were seeking technologies, best practices, and an architecture to set the right foundation for that. Are you?

Guest Article by Archana Venkatraman, IDC – Research Manager – European Datacenter Research

Archana Venkatraman is a research manager for IDC’s European Datacenter Research. She covers datacenter technologies including software-defined infrastructures, storage and data management, virtualization, containers, hyperconverged infrastructure, infrastructure performance monitoring, systems management, application development, and cloud services.

Archana also leads IDC’s European thought leadership program on open source technologies. She also contributes to European Digital Transformation, DevOps, Blockchain and IoT research practices.

Before joining IDC, Venkatraman was the datacenter editor at Computer Weekly, the digital magazine and website for IT professionals based in London, where she focused on datacenters, server virtualization, storage, open source technologies, software-defined infrastructures, and cloud computing, liaising with enterprise CIOs and technology vendors to develop deeper insight into the enterprise IT industry. Venkatraman has a master’s degree in journalism from Mumbai University.

Archana is based in IDC’s London office. Follow Archana on Twitter @archanatweets.