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Strengthening business resilience with an effective data strategy

15 Jun 2020

Article by Cloudera A/NZ country manager Nick Hoskins.

Faced with ongoing uncertainty and change, many organisations are needing to enhance their 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 robust data strategy is a key differentiator.

However, only 35% of executives from organisations globally consider their current data strategy to be sufficient, according to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) Analytic Services report commissioned by Cloudera. The top three barriers to maximising data for strategy gain are: lack of analytical expertise, data silos and organisational silos across the enterprise.

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

Supports “business as usual”

With the accelerated rise of remote working, organisations are increasingly using various forms of cloud computing to enable their employees to remain connected for work and learning. The potential risk associated with this approach is that many different forms of data will be stored across multiple locations and form factors, often without a consistent approach taken to data security and governance. For example, a company could retain sensitive records that fall under compliance scope within a private cloud, while running proof-of-concept applications using anonymised 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 this shift provides greater control, it can result in data silos that hinder data accessibility and the ability to access data fast enough to make decisions in real time. 

Organisations should, therefore, ensure their data strategy is redefined to support the use of hybrid and multi-cloud environments. By enabling employees to securely access, analyse and experiment with data regardless of where it resides, organisations can quickly respond to changing market dynamics and minimise the impact of disruptions to the business.   

Helps establish trust

Remote working for long periods of time was not a norm for most organisations 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 organisations 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. The pandemic has also changed customers’ expectations and the way we work. 

Organisations that will thrive in the new normal are those that can make insight-driven decisions to reshape the business as required. Realising 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 organisation 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, organisations 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’ approach when reviewing and adjusting their data strategy. 

Supporting open compute architecture, open data stores, and open integration enables organisations 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 organisations take advantage of the rapid pace of open source community innovation.    

Leveraging enterprise data cloud for resiliency

Although organisations 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. 

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 organisations 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.