Strengthening business resilience with an effective data strategy

Faced with the ongoing uncertainty and change, organizations need to enhance their business resiliency to effectively address disruptions and pivot to the new normal. They not only have to maintain continuous business operations, but also be agile to adapt to changes flexibly and at speed.

Since both of those requirements demand the ability to make insight-driven decisions, having a data strategy is key. However, only 35% of executives from organizations globally think their current data strategy is sufficient . The top three barriers to maximizing data for strategy gain are: lack of analytical expertise, data silos, and organizational silos across the enterprise.

Given these challenges, how should organizations ensure their data strategy can help them become more resilient?

Supports “business as usual”
With the rise of remote working, many organizations are leveraging cloud storage and services to enable their employees to remain connected with work and collaborate. The downside of this move is that it causes data to be stored in multiple locations. For example, a company could retain sensitive records that fall under compliance scope in the private cloud, while running proof-of-concept applications using anonymized datasets in the public cloud.

Such hybrid and multi-cloud architectures are expected to be adopted by more than 90% of enterprises in the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) region by 2021. Although the move provides greater control, it can result in data silos that hinder data accessibility and the ability to ingest data fast enough to make decisions in real time.

Organizations should, therefore, ensure their data strategy works in a hybrid multi-cloud environment. By enabling employees to securely access, analyze and experiment with data regardless of where it resides, organizations can quickly respond to changing market dynamics and minimize the impact of disruptions to the business.

Helps establish trust
Remote working for long periods of time was not a norm for most organizations before the COVID-19 pandemic. Without the right tools to securely address the surge in the new way of work, businesses are at risk of exposing the confidentiality, integrity and availability of their data assets to cyber attackers.

They may also struggle to adhere to the growing range and complexity of regulatory requirements–especially those around data movement and privacy–as data is spread across different IT environments and even across borders. The HBR survey found that 57% of respondents expect to face new data privacy regulations in the near future.

As data security and governance are vital to establishing trust, an effective data strategy should enable organizations to trace the provenance of information, maintain data integrity, and preserve all related metadata. This calls for a consistent set of security and governance policies to be enforced across hybrid multi-cloud environments—including fine-grained access controls, data lineage, and audit logs.

Enables businesses to pivot to the new normal
Although the experience of the past can help companies better prepare for future challenges, it does not provide a blueprint for action. This is especially so as the pandemic has changed customers’ expectations and the way we work.

Organizations that will thrive in the new normal are those that can make insight-driven decisions to reshape the business as required. Realizing this, half of the companies HBR surveyed plan to use more advanced analytics, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), by 2023 to fully extract the business value embedded in data. For instance, they can use a combination of predictive and prescriptive analytics, scenario simulation, and early-warning detection to forecast customer demand changes almost in real time.

As such, an effective data strategy must support multiple analytical frameworks – from real-time analytics at the Edge to artificial intelligence. Empowering everyone in the organization to develop the best intelligence this way will enable businesses to better adapt to changes.

Gives data the freedom of choice
With disruptions expected to continue in future, organizations will need the ability to tap on both new and existing data sources. They may be required to move data across cloud platforms or use multiple cloud platforms at the same time. To achieve this and avoid vendor lock-in, they should take an open source approach to data strategy.

Supporting open compute architecture, open data stores, and open integration enables organizations to treat cloud as infrastructure instead of data architecture. It will allow them to select the right cloud compute and storage resources for their datasets, which also helps better manage their cloud costs. Moreover, the open source ecosystem partnerships can help organizations take advantage of the rapid pace of open source community innovation.

Leveraging enterprise data cloud for resiliency
Although organizations will take different approaches to become data-driven and enhance business resiliency, an enterprise data cloud can help support that journey. With an enterprise data cloud, businesses will be able to apply a wide range of data analytics techniques from the Edge to AI in a secure, governed, and consistent manner across their choice of IT environments.

Using an enterprise data cloud, Bombay Stock Exchange for instance, has been able to ingest massive volumes of data and realize real-time analytics, while improving data governance maintaining compliance with the latest industry service-level agreements (SLAs).

Since avoiding volatility and uncertainty is not an option, it is imperative for companies to build greater business resiliency to thrive. Having a data strategy backed by an enterprise data cloud can help. It will enable organizations to view their data sets and consistently manage data governance and security from a single platform.

It will also allow various analytic disciplines to be applied against data regardless of where it resides (i.e., public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, multi-cloud, or on-premise), empowering the business to become insights-driven. Equipped with all these capabilities, they will be in a good position to sustain operations while rearchitecting the business for the future.

— Vinod Ganesan, Country Manager, India, Cloudera.

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