Harnessing Data to Drive Digital Strategies
If it weren’t for data, most organizations wouldn’t even care about transforming into a digital business. The bottom-line growth and revenue potential of efficiently acquiring, analyzing and acting on data is the digital business’s primary driver.
When organizations set goals to reduce development cycles and accelerate time to market for products and services, and revamp business processes to increase efficiencies and enhance the customer experience, they need a well-defined, meticulously executed data strategy.
To make it all happen, IT plays an inescapable role. Organizations no longer view IT as some invisible entity hidden in the background that is called upon only for problems. IT touches everything, from the security badge to enter an office building, to each employee’s daily tasks, to every digital interaction with partners and customers—and a myriad of day-to-day touch points in between.
As part of its broad set of responsibilities, IT runs the infrastructure and apps that support data strategies, enabling data capture and security, and working with line-of-business managers to make smart data-driven decisions. IT needs the support of leadership. IT needs the right tools and knowhow. This means investing in technology, infrastructure, security and third-party expert contracts to execute a data strategy.
Achieving IT Agility
Currently, 48% of businesses are making substantial investments in digital capabilities, and another 57% will be doing the same in two years, according to IDC. These investments are essential for leveraging data to connect with customers in exciting new ways, adding new revenue streams and improving operational efficiency.
Competing in the new digital world order requires greater IT agility. Many IT teams struggle with legacy systems and inconsistent configurations that hinder reliability while driving up costs, inflexible deployment options that lead to overprovisioning and under-utilized assets and limited platforms that hamper development of new services, according to IDC. Teams also struggle with limited skills availability, the need to develop new applications, cloud migrations, network latency issues and lack of automation.
Thankfully, new tools, platforms and applications are giving IT the means to help organizations harness the power of data. Tools driven by analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are making it easier to manage IT resources, cloud services are giving companies more access to new technology and automation tools are simplifying management of multi-cloud environments.
Building an Adaptive Network
To achieve IT agility, organizations need adaptive networks as the foundation. Even though companies increasingly rely on the cloud for their workloads, they still need robust networks to support data collection and digital interactions with partners and customers.
But not all network assets reside either in the cloud or on premise. To achieve the agility organizations need to make real-time decisions, many are deploying sites at the network edge for data processing and analysis. This approach eliminates the latency that occurs when data has to travel to and from a cloud infrastructure. Edge computing, therefore, enables real-time decisions by making it possible to process data closer to its source.
As such, edge computing improves operational efficiency, allowing organizations to leverage a hybrid-cloud approach alongside an adaptive network infrastructure. Ultimately, the edge will make it possible for organizations to optimize the efficiency of their data and application so they can take advantage of emerging technologies.
But for that to happen, the network has to be highly available. It requires a dynamic, flexible architecture to support connectivity and interaction between multiple clouds—both private and public—in hybrid environments. Many companies have moved workloads such as website management and email to the cloud, while keeping business-critical applications such as inventory systems and data warehousing on premise.
Software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) are lending functionality and flexibility to adaptive networks, automating functions that traditionally have been time-consuming and costly. Network managers can provision managed services from a network provider, including firewalls and routers. SDN and NFV also enable load balancing and traffic rerouting, both in a programmable way and on the fly, to ease network bottlenecking.
As data moves in, out and within adaptive networks, it requires protection. A single data breach can cost millions of dollars in lost productivity, recovery, mitigation and the erosion of partner and customer trust. Protecting data is fundamental to the success of a digital business strategy.
But security is a complicated affair, as data flows in from multiple sources in various formats. Connections between the network and the cloud must be secured. And as networks grow, they are increasingly distributed across dozens, hundreds or thousands of locations, and millions of network devices, often crossing borders and continents.
It’s hard for organizations to manage security on their own, considering all the security layers that must be in place. As companies become increasingly reliant on digital resources, they must protect their physical and virtual assets—whether on premise in the cloud or at the edge—with a comprehensive security approach. While cloud providers are in charge of protecting data within their environments, organizations are responsible for data on premise or traveling back and forth.
Finding Trusted Partners
More and more organizations are engaging managed security providers to help them manage the complexity of securing their networks and data. Partners bring skills that are in short supply and advanced tools, including AI and machine learning techniques, to secure hybrid environments.
The right security partner can deliver a holistic set of services that includes advanced detection techniques, threat intelligence to spot new hazards, vulnerability testing, access and authentication protocols and protection against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
But partners can deliver more than security, including managed services that bring efficiency and visibility into network management, as well as consulting services to help with the planning and execution of digital business strategies. Partners also help organizations make sense of the data they capture and guide them in making smart data-driven decisions.
Companies that combine internal and external resources to develop their data strategies find a smoother path into their digital future. This allows them to perfect business operations processes, eliminate effort duplication, cut costs and deliver personalized customer experiences. And that’s why data is at the heart of every digital business strategy.
Read the full IDC Harnessing Your Data to Deliver Better Experiences and Drive Digital Transformation Report
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