Data as a Service Can Alleviate Data Pain

Image credit: iStockphoto/Dilok Klaisataporn

While three-quarters of businesses said their demand for data has increased, only 41% were analyzing more data than they were three years ago, according to a report by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Dell Technologies.

The report titled “Unveiling Data Challenges Afflicting Businesses Around the World” found that businesses were becoming overwhelmed by data. And while they were struggling to get value from the data they already had, they were still hungry for more.

With the market moving rapidly in this way, the report recommended using a ‘data as a service’ model “to relieve the pain caused by the data paradox.”

“Please, sir, I want more.”

The report was the result of an online survey conducted by Forrester, which gathered responses from 4,036 IT decision-makers in 45 countries.

“Over the past three years, 66% of decision-makers have seen an increase in the amount of data they generate, and 75% say demand for data has increased during this time,” the report said.

“Some are seeing these data vectors double, if not triple, leaving them with a lot of data they cannot analyze and use fast enough. This has created a myriad of security and compliance risks and overwhelmed data teams,” it added.

The report goes on to say that businesses want more data despite having challenges with what they have. Seventy percent of IT leaders said they are gathering data faster than they can use it, 67% of IT leaders noted they need more.

Digital transformation might be increasing the hunger for data. Still, there was a struggle to make this data available for analysis or even ensure that the available data is analyzed and used.

Shifting data gravity center

The types of data that are increasing fastest include unstructured data from videos, images, text, voice, and social media, business application data, and data from sensors and physical processes.

Data’s center of gravity was also changing and shifting away from the data center and warehouse and even analytics databases towards a “networked ecosystem of data streams and the edge.”

Forrester advocates the data as a service model as a way of “relieving the pain caused by the data paradox.”

The research found that 57% of respondents expected to move to this model over the next one to three years. Only 20% said they have transitioned to the as-a-service model for most of their applications and infrastructure.

“Shifting to an as a service model offers key benefits, such as easier data movement, better data management through a single access point, and faster time to action,” the report said.

The data as a service model allows firms to be more adaptable and agile and free up capacity to scale data volume and meet new demands.

Also driving this movement is the trend towards the consolidation of public cloud infrastructure while dealing with the reality of the hybrid cloud.

Data decision-makers are reducing the number of clouds they use for data management, opening up the gateway to as-a-service technology and an on-demand data consumption model.

“By moving away from outdated infrastructure to the latest technology delivered via a service, firms can better manage their data,” the report said.

“Today, most hosted private cloud vendors offer managed public cloud and even provide migration consulting to help customers get there faster.”

Three recommendations

The report concluded with three key recommendations, which hinged on developing a data strategy that balances culture and technology.

The first recommendation was to “expect to buy outcomes, not technologies.”

“Data storage, integration, and query technology, optimized by automation scripts and select human intervention, can create an analytics-ready inventory and sales data,” the report said.

“This data then enables hundreds or thousands of better business decisions, resulting in reduced cost and increased sales.”

The second recommendation was to “measure values by business outcomes achieved.”

“Data-as-a-service will not always be cheaper,” it said.

“Instead, value the benefits of strategies enabled. This will give you a bigger benefits picture with which to justify investments. The fact that data-as-a-service also provides future flexibility is an additional soft benefit that will yield hard returns over time as things change.”

Finally, the last recommendation was to identify culture and talent inhibitors to data as a service.

“Moving to an as-a-service model for data will run into people and culture problems, just as the adoption of software-as-a-service did,” the report said.

“For example, what is going to happen to the three employees whose job it is to manage 35 instances of your data integration server? Or would your business analysts be able to consume data made available through a service easily? It is time to understand the implications of a data-as-a-service, identify the people issues, and start to work on change management.”

Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and DigitalWorkforceTrends, and the editor of NextGen Connectivity. His fascination is with how businesses are reinventing themselves through digital technology and collaborate with others to become completely new organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/Dilok Klaisataporn