Chief Data Officers Face Major Challenges in Data Logistics and Management

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“The object for any data lake is to make data insights and analytics far more available and valuable throughout the company”, says Dave Murray, Director of thought leadership at the BPI Network in an exclusive interview to Enterprise Talk.

ET Bureau: What, according to you, is the requirement for building and refining data lakes in the cloud?

Dave Murray: There’s no doubt that the cloud has become the platform of choice for large data analytics projects, such as data lakes. The cloud uniquely provides a massive scale and elasticity needed to make these initiatives possible.

The leading cloud providers have also brought together the necessary tools and expertise to help companies move much more rapidly toward their goals.

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To be successful, data analytics teams need to work closely with leaders across their companies to determine the major objectives for leveraging data. The object for any data lake is to make data insights and analytics far more available and valuable throughout the company.

There needs to be agreement on the optimal balance between risks, quality of data, and scale. Many Chief Data Officers talk about the critical importance of the entire organization speaking the same language and agreeing on goals and objectives.

Building out a data strategy will create a framework to move forward. Data analysts and scientists need to determine what data sets and sources should be moved into the cloud to meet company objectives.

This kind of focus, versus importing every possible data set and source into the lake, will allow the initiative to move more quickly and effectively toward delivering value to the enterprise.

Determining data quality and governance policies at the start is also essential. Registering data through cataloging to ensure quality and lineage is also necessary to trust the answers that come back.

There needs to be a disciplined and rigorous process for moving raw data through a series of steps or zones toward its ultimate goal of becoming analytics- and business-ready.

ET Bureau: Why do you think that organizations should consider data as both a defensive asset and an offensive weapon?

Dave Murray: In the past, corporate data and analytics were often closely guarded within the enterprise and restricted to select decision-makers. Data governance meant restrictions and control.

Organizations today are increasingly seeking to unlock data and analytics to empower far more functions and people. As one Chief Data Officer told us, the goal of data modernization should be to “free the data” and make its insights and intelligence available throughout a business.

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The emancipation of data will create more agile and competitive businesses with the capability to respond far more rapidly and proactively to business opportunities and challenges.

Modern analytics uses cases increasingly focused on driving revenue and growth—from customer insights to power personalization, cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and better products and services to optimize marketing campaigns and pricing decisions to increase sales.

ET Bureau: How can organizations avoid getting lost in data analytics insights?

Dave Murray: The challenge companies face one of striking the right balance between focus and flexibility. Chief data officers and cloud experts warn that taking too broad a focus—attempting to “boil the ocean” as it were—is a recipe for failure. However, taking too targeted an approach will limit the value of data and insights across the organization.

Data and analytics teams need to partner with IT and business leaders to identify the critical areas of analytics, such as customer insight, better products and services, financial and business risk management, and determine what sources and types of data are needed to accomplish those goals.

The idea, however, is not to limit the applicability of that data within the organization. The idea is to make it available wherever it will do the most good. Also, more sources and applications can be added over time. For example, some organizations are now striving to get more value and insights from unstructured data, such as social media, web logs, and customer reviews.

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As one CDO said, “You’re not solving for a single problem. Ideally, you’re solving for thousands of problems, but you’ve got to build that in such a way that you ultimately know what you’re solving for and how that iteratively can add value over time.”

ET Bureau: How are data migration and replication part of the multi-cloud world?

Dave Murray: The future of data and applications is multi-cloud. For a variety of reasons, more and more companies are choosing a multi-cloud strategy. In part, this is because of cost, business continuity, and geographic governance and performance concerns.

Companies are also working with different cloud providers because they want to take advantage of their specific strengths, capabilities, and tools. In a multi-cloud world, organizations need to securely and efficiently replicate and transport data to locations and applications to bring the most value to their business.

There are significant concerns associated with data migration. One of the chief challenges is protecting data synchronization as it moves from one location to another. There is a rising need for technology solutions that can selectively replicate and transfer data on a large scale while protecting its quality, consistency, and integrity.

Because object storage is now the storage format of choice within the cloud, accounting for an estimated 85 percent of all data by 2025, it will be critical to identify, replicate, and move object-based storage data intelligently.

A big replication challenge needs to be addressed because each cloud provider uses its version of object storage, making replication and migration of data from cloud to cloud problematic. One company that is pioneering cloud-agnostic replication is DBM Cloud Systems.

Murray has more than 30 years of diversified communications and marketing experience, including more than 20 years of consulting with technology-driven businesses in the Silicon Valley and around the world. The Wisconsin native began his career as a journalist and was City Editor for a major daily newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also served as a Vice President of Financial Communications at Wells Fargo Bank, managing communications issues around one of the largest banking acquisitions in history (Crocker Bank).