Data: The fuel to all innovation and future advancements

In the coming decade, data will be at the heart of transformative technologies that will affect every sector, creating new possibilities for healthcare, financial services, education and industrial manufacturing

Alok Ohrie
Updated: Aug 10, 2020 06:20:28 PM UTC
Image: Shutterstock

Digital transformation is profoundly changing the shape of business today. Companies are leveraging transformation to improve productivity and enhance customer experiences, open up new markets, and create new sources of competitive advantage. 2020 marks the beginning of a more intelligent and connected world enabled by data.

For many years, innovation and computing cycles have been driven solely by advances in semiconductor technology. For the first time, we are seeing multiplier effects from the convergence of several emergent technologies such as Edge computing, Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Data forms the backbone of all these new technologies.

Over the past decade, data volumes have increased by several orders of magnitude. Connected intelligent devices and sensors from across diverse verticals such as oil and natural gas, healthcare, and manufacturing have been producing copious amounts of data. According to research done by Raconteur, we are likely to reach 463 exabytes of data produced daily by 2025.

Data-driven business intelligence tools such as Tableau, Oracle Data Visualisation and Microsoft PowerBI have been bringing productivity benefits as well as savings through reductions in inefficiencies, downtime, and human error. But, the most important development in the last decade has been the success of AI. With its evolution from an experimental science to an industry-ready technology, AI, powered by data, promises to drive exponential productivity gains and deliver new levels of efficiency to business outcomes. In a KPMG survey, 50 percent respondents said they expect to be using AI/Machine Learning at scale within the next three years.

Cloud has been a key enabler for data driven technologies such as AI and IoT. With the availability of cheap computing power, and the adoption at-scale of the public Cloud, almost infinite amounts of processing power and storage capability is available to organisations.

The Edge—where data is collected, is best suited for instantaneous computation to parse and analyse streaming data where quick response is crucial. The Edge is increasingly emerging and expanding within organisations where zero latency requirement necessitates distributed collection and storage capabilities closest to the source. 5G connectivity and software-defined networking solutions will enable seamless, high-speed connectivity for massive amounts of data workloads between the edge, core and cloud environments, allowing deeper analysis in the cloud.

Hybrid and multi-cloud IT environments will become increasingly common as businesses demand better data management and visibility. IDC predicted that by 2021, over 90 percent of enterprises worldwide will rely on a mix of on-premises, dedicated private clouds, several public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their IT infrastructure needs.

Coupled with machine-to-machine communication and the continuous flow of data from countless sensors, the datasphere is now more connected than ever before, spanning the private and public clouds. Asia is currently leading the world in terms of producing data, driven largely by industrial robotics and automation. With 33 zettabytes (ZB) of data now in storage, Asia's data volume is expected to reach 170 ZB by 2025, with enterprises contributing 60 percent of that volume.

However, complexities in extracting valuable insights out of large volumes of data from diverse sources remain a bottleneck for many organisations. Structured data (such as accounting records or customer information) and unstructured data (such as digital images or spreadsheets) from clouds, in devices at the edge, and in core data centers present challenges in organising, analysing and making sense to drive value. This also presents a business opportunity for specialised services.

The business of data will become a significant sector of the global economy. Data will be treated as an asset that has a defined intrinsic value, that will be bought, sold, and serviced. Growing demand in industries to gain actionable insights from voluminous data will drive the adoption of Big Data as a Service (BDaaS) solutions. A research by MarketsandMarkets estimated that the global BDaaS market size will grow from $11.3 billion in 2019 to $42.7 billion by 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30.5 percent during the forecast period.

Data from ‘Events’ like customer wait times, machine failures, GPS recordings, sensors and temperature monitors produce voluminous information that require real-time or near real-time analytics. Complex-event processing (CEP) based on event driven architectures is emerging as a key strategic platform for delivering business value. Retail, healthcare, banking, tourism, manufacturing and other verticals are adopting event-driven processing to develop competitive edge.

Open source stream-processing software like Kafka, and event-streaming platforms like Confluent have made it easier to process massive numbers of events at low latency, in real-time, and integrate CEP into their business models.

The volume and velocity of data is accelerating every day. This highlights the need for efficient, secure database management that enhances data security, reduces downtime, improves performance and is not vulnerable to human error. Autonomous databases are fully managed database services that are optimised for a specific workload in the Public Cloud. They are self-driving, self-repairing and self-securing, offering high flexibility and high availability for operations.

In the coming decade, data will be at the heart of transformative technologies that will affect every sector, creating new possibilities for healthcare, financial services, education and industrial manufacturing. A rising tide of automation and Robotic Process Automation in the industry will create and require more data than ever before. IDC estimated that 1.2 zettabytes (1.2 trillion gigabytes) of new data was created in 2010, up from 0.8 zettabytes the year before. In 2025, 175 zettabytes (175 trillion gigabytes) of new data will be created around the world.

The 'Next Data Decade' will change how businesses collect, analyse and act on information to drive positive change and deliver the future in new and personalised ways. Organisations will have to integrate intelligent data solutions while adopting appropriate technologies with consistency in architectures, easy orchestration, high data visibility, access and security.

The writer is President and MD of Dell Technologies India

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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