Getting your data analytics in order, no matter where your data lives

In order to survive and thrive in the “new normal” of 2020 almost all businesses have had to relook at their digital strategy in order to ensure they're able to keep pace with fluctuating consumer behaviour. By Paul Mackay, EMEA Cloud Lead at Cloudera.

Just recently, successful supermarket chain Aldi announced its plans to add an online service, in response to the changing shopping habits of customers. This shift to digital across the world, has led to an astronomical growth in cloud investment. In fact, Gartner forecasts worldwide public cloud revenue to grow 6.3% this year. For the majority of enterprises, going digital is the answer to survival, but this decision brings with it a whole new challenge — a data storm. Businesses, some of which have never been digital and others who considered themselves digital-first, have very suddenly had to deal with an unparalleled influx of data. The fallout of the data storm — lots, and lots, of questions. How do I capture all this data? How can I analyse it faster? How do I protect it and share it with more people? How do I understand it and get meaningful insights from it?

But these questions aren’t always so simple to answer. This is because, whilst a cloud based approach certainly has its benefits, mainly when it comes to scalability of infrastructure, the reality remains that many businesses — particularly those who are larger and more well-established — are still having to operate partly on-premises or in a hybrid model. With the amount of data created in just the next three years, due to surpass that created in the past 30 years, managing these vast streams of structured and unstructured data is going to be the biggest challenge, especially when it is sat across numerous platforms, in an even bigger data storm. The good news is it’s not an insurmountable challenge.

Organisations have already taken the first step to building the flexibility their operations need and have done this by recognising that data, and the way in which it is analysed and then utilised, is what will help them to not only recover but also grow in the future. Now, these organisations have to take the next step. They need to implement technologies that will support the entire data journey, regardless of where the data resides, allowing a business to derive the greatest value from all the data sets it has and those that are still to come.

Getting all your (data) chips in a row

The need for a single point of view on all analytics in order to navigate the data storm, regardless of where the data resides, is the draw for adopting an Enterprise Data Cloud (EDC). An EDC is a hybrid and multi-cloud platform that uses the full data lifecycle to help organisations extract the true value from their data. It can be defined by four key pillars:

  • The ability
  • to run analytics in any cloud — An EDC is optimised for private cloud, multiple public
  • clouds, and hybrid cloud environments. It delivers the same data management capabilities across all of these disparate environments. This means businesses have flexibility and choice over where they host their data and don’t have to be dictated to by any provider.
  • Analytics
  • across the full data lifecycle —- Whether that’s right at the beginning when a business
  • is trying to ingest streaming data, to transforming the data, to querying and reporting on their data, and transacting on their data, right through to AI guided decisions and actions, an EDC can be used by any business to address their most pressing challenges.
  • Providing
  • a single and consistent security and governance — In the world we find ourselves living
  • in, it’s simply not acceptable to not know who has access to your data. In some cases, it is illegal and can lead to significant fines and damage to a company’s brand. An EDC provides organisations with consistent data security, governance, and control that
  • will safeguard data privacy and meet regulatory compliance across different environments.
  • Based on
  • open source — This is one of the most important features of an EDC because open source
  • has an extremely fast rate of innovation allowing customers to gain the benefits of a robust community developing advanced technologies. Open APIs and storage formats ensure companies are able to use the tools that are relevant to their business and always
  • have access to their data.

Using the tech to build competitive advantage

Recognising the value in data, and lining up the very best technology are brilliant first steps in overcoming the challenges of a data storm. There is however more to do. Businesses have to become more agile. Leadership, working with the technology teams, have to identify the factors that produce optimal performance. Once these factors (and the data that relates to them) have been identified, they can then be monitored in real-time. This will allow organisations to become more responsive and create, for example, better customer experiences or enable them to respond to fluctuations in the market.

The more agile and responsive a business is, the more competitive advantage it can gain — all through data.

Make your data work harder, so you don’t have to

At Cloudera, we’ve personally seen this approach work across a wide variety of industries, and all around the world. Companies are using an EDC to analyse data in order to guide their decisions, gain competitive advantage, and grow. We’ve seen companies use an EDC to reassess their entire data infrastructure and modernise it, therefore dramatically reducing costs. We’ve also seen industry-specific applications, for example in healthcare, where a client was able to use an EDC in a way that meant they could onboard new use cases in hours, rather than the months it used to take — thereby saving lives.

In 2020, and beyond, it is no longer enough to reactively recover from change, businesses have to proactively prepare for it. Recognising the challenge, having a platform in place that will empower a business to gain clear and actionable insights from its data, and changing attitudes towards agility will be a cornerstone in success.

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