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Why do you need to modernize your data estate?

In Thought Leadership

In a highly digital economy where everyone and everything is connected, knowing how people behave and what they need through data is worth more than any tangible assets.

Some experts are even calling data “the new oil.”

Data enables faster and more efficient decisions with the ability to quickly spot opportunities and threats. However, with long-established businesses often come old infrastructures and systems. As much as businesses want to innovate and drive data and applications like machine learning, they simply don’t have the supporting architecture to do so. Companies are desperately trying to create an infrastructure and philosophy that embraces the potential of data and they are doing so with what we call a “data estate.”

What is a data estate?

In simple terms, when you hear somebody talking about their data estate, it refers to the infrastructure or framework that allows companies to manage all their data. As the world becomes more digitalized, these tend to be cloud-based solutions but can still be developed on-premise (or a combination of both.)

Within a data estate, organizations will store, manipulate and analyse their data for all systems in one place. This could include transactional data like sales, social media, customer profiles or even unstructured information such as speech and images. This will be collected from sources like back office systems, CRMs, mobile data, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, telephony or email services.

A data estate will normally begin with a central hub. This is a place that collates all your data and connects multiple sources and systems. It needs to digest huge volumes of data, usually in real-time, as well as being highly scalable for the changing needs of the business. Data needs to be stored, indexed, classified and processed all within the central hub. Therefore, the decision for cloud vs on-premise is essential.

Having an estate with a central hub or “single source of truth” acts as an enabled for automation.

Why should I have modernizing the data estate as a priority?

In a highly competitive environment, the maturity of your data strategy could make or break the business.

Microsoft provides three key reasons for modernizing your data estate:

  1. You could be missing out on game-changing cost benefits
  2. Opening your business to possible vulnerabilities if you don’t change
  3. Falling behind with modern analytics capabilities without a modern data estate

A modern data infrastructure with better security, processing power and collaboration can provide game-changing cost benefits. For example, Microsoft no longer supports old data warehousing options like SQL Server 2005/2008 meaning they may not be compliant with new regulation including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Businesses can be put at huge risk financially if they are found not to adhere with GDPR policies.

A 2017 Ponemon study found that those who fail to modernize their infrastructure have a 25% chance of experiencing a data breach at an average cost of $3.62 million. Some of those attacks go unnoticed for more than four months.

Accessibility to data helps people recognize opportunities. Research at the University of Austin found that just by ensuring data is usable, companies can see an increase of $2.01 billion per year

Furthermore, 93% of executives believe they are missing out on opportunities because of not having access to the right data. A lot of this comes because the data is unstructured and hard to interpret using legacy systems. The ability to utilize unstructured data is fundamental to emerging technologies and techniques like machine learning.

What is modernization?

The answer is that it depends on your business but there are several considerations that need to form a data estate strategy.

-          Microsoft suggests all businesses should ensure their SQL Server is upgraded to the latest version so that they receive all the benefits in terms of performance and security.

-          Make use of the cloud for enhanced storage scalability, processing power and the ability to develop AI technologies.

-          A hybrid approach uses both of the above to create a “best fit” business infrastructure.

There are a growing number of providers such as Amazon, Google and IBM all offering hybrid infrastructure facilities. It is important to make a decision based on your business objectives and on a realistic level to where the current structure is. For example, you can’t move from a small desktop server to a huge cloud storage system overnight.

Modernization of the data estate is iterative and continuous. Whatever you do now must be scalable enough to adapt to the changing environment.

Summary

In an exponentially growing digital world, organizations that treat their data as a strategic asset can take advantage of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), ML and natural language processing. While the shift is a cultural challenge, introducing these transformations can have amazing efficiency, productivity and cost benefits.

Modern data infrastructures look to remove silos and unlock insights to make informed decisions and keep up with the competition.

Crayon has teams across the world that can help you harnessing the value of data through IoT, AI and ML by modernizing your data estate today. Contact us! We’re happy to help.

Erling Hesselberg - Vice President