Building a future-ready data platform: 3 keys for success

  • Posted on June 17, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

For enterprises to remain competitive, the cycle from gathering data to deriving insights has to be fast. Customer expectations constantly change, technology continuously advances, and the pressure to innovate at speed grows every day.

And those pressures will only increase, as the exponential growth of data creates more opportunities to generate business value and technologies such as AI become accessible to all. Enterprises need to look at their data platforms and determine if they’re ready to excel under these pressures and take full advantage of the opportunities.

Traditional data platforms lack the speed, flexibility, and scalability to deliver fast insights, and the business is often left waiting on IT to spin up resources for analytics projects that fuel innovation.

Fast, reliable insights and rapid, data-driven innovation demand a new, future-ready data platform.

What is the future-ready data platform?
To become a data-driven organization, you need a data platform that combines cloud infrastructure and advanced data management, analytics, and AI technologies. This kind of future-ready data platform is:

  • Self-service – operating a ‘cafeteria’ model, with a menu of analytics and AI services
  • Understandable – simplifying and democratizing data discovery
  • Transparent – making it clear what the platform contains and how to find it
  • Accessible – keeping all data in one place and delivering services through a user-specific interface
  • Stable and fast – providing both a reliable, controlled environment for mission-critical services and a fast, flexible sandbox environment for experimentation
The future-ready data platform also uses AI to suggest links between disparate data, massively reducing the time it takes to find and make sense of hidden connections. And built-in reporting on usage and performance enables IT teams to continuously optimize the platform.

This data platform is like an apartment complex. The complex as a whole is set up and managed by IT, with a water supply (data lake), plumbing (network connectivity), power (cloud computing resources), and so on. Then users can simply move into any ‘apartment room’, select the services they need, and start using them right away, with all the compute resources, back-end integration, and security configuration already taken care of for them.

Once it’s set up, the future-ready data platform offers much faster insights and accelerates time to market for innovations. But it will only deliver its full business value if you get three things right.

Three critical success factors
1. Plan for continuous IT evolution
Just as technology continuously evolves to add new capabilities, greater intelligence, and different interfaces, your approach to data will have to evolve over time to meet new market, customer, and business demands. 

That’s why it’s so important to have a modular, flexible data platform that doesn’t constrain you to one specific approach that may be outdated a year from now.

2. Manage the change
Becoming a data-driven organization is a significant change. Even with the most advanced tools and platforms, the biggest challenge is adopting and nurturing a data-driven mindset across the organization.

It’s a new way of thinking about IT services, and you’ll likely need to educate the business about how to engage with IT in this new, self-service world. You’ll need to factor change enablement and training into your plan, and consider implementing a single focal point for support, such as a competency center.

3. Find the right people
Adopting an innovation culture means finding the right people. You need people who are willing to experiment and take risks, keen to take on new challenges, and able to move between different skillsets rather than relying on expertise in one area.

Technology is changing so fast that it will be your people’s qualities and ability to adapt, not just their deep technical expertise on a particular skillset, that will determine success in the future.

Getting started
With these success factors in mind, you can begin to strategize for your future-ready data platform. That means defining a clear vision of where you want to go, and empowering yourself with knowledge about the capabilities available to get you there.

But beyond the capabilities of the tech, you also need to take a long, hard look at your organization and be honest about what you need to do to become more agile, flexible, and innovative. After that, you’ll know what your data platform needs to include to support your transformation.

It’s also critical to have a thorough understanding of the rules of the game – the data quality, security, privacy, governance, and storage requirements that are table stakes for data-driven organizations. So, it’s essential to create a strong data strategy and roadmap to act as a foundation for everything you do.

To learn more about the impact of a future-ready data platform download a recent AI research study of Avanade, Accenture, Microsoft and Forbes Insights. They surveyed top executives to understand how they are approaching AI and to explore some of the results being realized through early adoption. Read the executive brief to help guide your path to AI, as well as necessary steps companies are taking to accelerate their AI efforts.

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