Monday, 6th April 2020

Breaking down data monopolies

When it comes to user data, the rich keep getting richer. The undisputed leader in consumer data, Facebook, had well over two billion monthly active users in 2018, while the West’s leading e-commerce site Amazon boasted 2.6 billion visitors in March alone. By Eric Shrock, CTO, Delphix.

These leaders are not only gathering data about every single user interaction, they’ve built the technology and capabilities to utilise it in the most effective way. Their huge economies of scale aren’t just about technology and people, but also giving them cash reserves to weather the inevitable costs of data breaches and regulatory fees for non-compliance.

As well as making them preeminent in their own fields, these data resources make it easy for these companies to diversify their services and move into new industries very quickly. Today, Amazon is a retailer, grocer, pharmacy, and more. Data helps big tech reign supreme, while smaller competitors remain in the digital shadows.

Monopolies are bad for everyone. Levelling the playing field requires smaller companies to become more proficient and agile with data so they can innovate quickly without compromising security or compliance.

Transforming the way people access their data

A good start is to conduct a thorough review of your company’s operations to discover new ways of opportunity to leverage data from your customer interactions. But data is only a raw material; organisations must also consider what they will build with the information they gather. What new products or services can you create? How can you transform the customer experience? Above all, how can you leverage raw data to fuel innovation, creating lasting business value?

Enterprise data management has undergone multiple evolutions in recent years. Just a few years ago data resided in centralised silos, restricted by slow movement and facing increased exposure to risk. In today’s climate data needs to move rapidly and securely across business units.

But technology is not a panacea: it also requires an effective corporate strategy towards data. This is easier said than done.Research has shown that less than 37% of business organisations perceive that IT’s digital initiatives are aligned with the business and only 25% believe that IT are correctly using their data. These figures are certainly alarming in today’s business landscape where data-driven decisions are commonplace.

Making sure the organisation is geared around data is crucial to success. If your teams don’t trust the data and each other, it’s impossible to become a data-driven company. But like DevOps, this type of organizational transformation requires enabling technology to be successful. DataOps is a new movement to help connect people to data without being bogged down by data friction, one that businesses should watch closely and learn from as it evolves.

Keeping compliant is key

Every business has an ethical and legal duty to ensure compliance with relevant regulations across the board, which is the best way to avoid the lawlessness that characterises today’s data monopolies.

It can seem like the technology giants are immune from regulations. For the last year or longer, barely a week has gone by without news of another major data breach. Each of thesecosts a company £1.82 million on average – to say nothing of the reputational and organisational damage. CEOs have lost their jobs following major leaks, and CSOs wake up each morning dreading the news that personal customer data is in hackers’ hands.

Large businesses may be able to treat fines as part of the cost of doing business, but smaller players don’t have this luxury. Instead, they need to find a way of managing their growth of data with the intricate and convoluted ways in which data is used without ending up in a quagmire. It’s no wonder then that companies struggle to understand, let alone quantify, their risk. Even if you are able to identify, secure, and deliver data, it’s extremely difficult to fully understand how it’s being used at scale, and even harder to take action against new threats.

Don’t get stuck in digital limbo

It’s easy to get trapped in a limbo where you have limitless data resources but no ability to turn it into business value. By rewriting the physics of data with a dynamic approach, businesses can ensure that sensitive data is secured, and that the right data is made available to the right people, when and where they need it.

Continuing to imagine that data is simply a matter for the data monopolies is an admission of defeat. Every business needs to understand that they are a data company. That means equipping everyone with the raw data and the tools they need to turn information into insight and ultimately into innovation – from the engineers who provide the data to the data scientists that interpret it and the developers who test against it.

There’s no reason why the data monopolies should continue to operate unchallenged. In today’s business climate where every company is a data company, data – and the benefits it confers – is a right for all. That’s the principle on which Delphix was founded: to free companies - no matter the size - from data friction and so enable them to accelerate innovation and reinvention.

-End-

By Michael Cade, Global Technologist at Veeam.
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