Almost all organizations are investing in data science, or planning to, as they seek to encourage experimentation and exploration to identify new business challenges and opportunities as part of the drive toward creating a more data-driven culture. My colleague, David Menninger, has written about how organizations using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) report gaining competitive advantage, improving customer experiences, responding faster to opportunities and threats, and improving the bottom line with increased sales and lower costs. One-quarter of participants (25%) in Ventana Research’s Analytics and Data Benchmark Research are already using AI/ML, while more than one-third (34%) plan to do so in the next year, and more than one-quarter (28%) plan to do so eventually. As organizations adopt data science and expand their analytics initiatives, they face no shortage of options for AI/ML capabilities. Understanding which is the most appropriate approach to take could be the difference between success and failure. The cloud providers all offer services, including general-purpose ML environments, as well as dedicated services for specific use cases, such as image detection or language translation. Software vendors also provide a range of products, both on-premises and in the cloud, including general-purpose ML platforms and specialist applications. Meanwhile, analytic data platform providers are increasingly adding ML capabilities to their offerings to provide additional value to customers and differentiate themselves from their competitors. There is no simple answer as to which is the best approach, but it is worth weighing the relative benefits and challenges. Looking at the options from the perspective of our analytic data platform expertise, the key choice is between AI/ML capabilities provided on a standalone basis or integrated into a larger data platform.
I have previously written about growing interest in the data lakehouse as one of the design patterns for delivering hydroanalytics analysis of data in a data lake. Many organizations have invested in data lakes as a relatively inexpensive way of storing large volumes of data from multiple enterprise applications and workloads, especially semi- and unstructured data that is unsuitable for storing and processing in a data warehouse. However, early data lake projects lacked structured data management and processing functionality to support multiple business intelligence efforts as well as data science and even operational applications.
I have written recently about the similarities and differences between data mesh and data fabric. The two are potentially complementary. Data mesh is an organizational and cultural approach to data ownership, access and governance. Data fabric is a technical approach to automating data management and data governance in a distributed architecture. There are various definitions of data fabric, but key elements include a data catalog for metadata-driven data governance and self-service, agile data integration.
Ventana Research’s Data Lakes Dynamics Insights research illustrates that while data lakes are fulfilling their promise of enabling organizations to economically store and process large volumes of raw data, data lake environments continue to evolve. Data lakes were initially based primarily on Apache Hadoop deployed on-premises but are now increasingly based on cloud object storage. Adopters are also shifting from data lakes based on homegrown scripts and code to open standards and open formats, and they are beginning to embrace the structured data-processing functionality that supports data lakehouse capabilities. These trends are driving the evolution of vendor product offerings and strategies, as typified by Cloudera’s recent launch of Cloudera Data Platform (CDP) One, described as a data lakehouse software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering.
The data catalog has become an integral component of organizational data strategies over the past decade, serving as a conduit for good data governance and facilitating self-service analytics initiatives. The data catalog has become so important, in fact, that it is easy to forget that just 10 years ago it did not exist in terms of a standalone product category. Metadata-based data management functionality has had a role to play within products for data governance and business intelligence for much longer than that, of course, but the emergence of the data catalog as a product category provided a platform for metadata-based data inventory and discovery that could span an entire organization, serving multiple departments, use cases and initiatives.
I recently wrote about the need for organizations to take a holistic approach to the management and governance of data in motion alongside data at rest. As adoption of streaming data and event processing increases, it is no longer sufficient for streaming data projects to exist in isolation. Data needs to be managed and governed regardless of whether it is processed in batch or as a stream of events. This requirement has resulted in established data management vendors increasing their focus on streaming data and event processing through product development as well as acquisitions. It has also resulted in streaming and event specialists, such as Confluent, adding centralized management and governance capabilities to their existing offerings as they seek to establish or reinforce the strategic importance of streaming data as part of a modern approach to data management.
When joining Ventana Research, I noted that the need to be more data-driven has become a mantra among large and small organizations alike. Data-driven organizations stand to gain competitive advantage, responding faster to worker and customer demands for more innovative, data-rich applications and personalized experiences. Being data-driven is clearly something to aspire to. However, it is also a somewhat vague concept without clear definition. We know data-driven organizations when we see them — the likes of Airbnb, DoorDash, ING Bank, Netflix, Spotify, and Uber are often cited as examples — but it is not necessarily clear what separates the data-driven from the rest. Data has been used in decision-making processes for thousands of years, and no business operates without some form of data processing and analytics. As such, although many organizations may aspire to be more data-driven, identifying and defining the steps required to achieve that goal are not necessarily easy. In this Analyst Perspective, I will outline the four key traits that I believe are required for a company to be considered data-driven.
Topics: embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data, Digital Technology, natural language processing, data lakes, AI and Machine Learning, data operations, Streaming Analytics, digital business, data platforms, Analytics & Data, Streaming Data & Events
I recently wrote about the potential benefits of data mesh. As I noted, data mesh is not a product that can be acquired, or even a technical architecture that can be built. It’s an organizational and cultural approach to data ownership, access and governance. While the concept of data mesh is agnostic to the technology used to implement it, technology is clearly an enabler for data mesh. For many organizations, new technological investment and evolution will be required to facilitate adoption of data mesh. Meanwhile, the concept of the data fabric, a technology-driven approach to managing and governing data across distributed environments, is rising in popularity. Although I previously touched on some of the technologies that might be applicable to data mesh, it is worth diving deeper into the data architecture implications of data mesh, and the potential overlap with data fabric.
I recently wrote about the importance of data pipelines and the role they play in transporting data between the stages of data processing and analytics. Healthy data pipelines are necessary to ensure data is integrated and processed in the sequence required to generate business intelligence. The concept of the data pipeline is nothing new of course, but it is becoming increasingly important as organizations adapt data management processes to be more data driven.
Topics: business intelligence, Analytics, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data, Digital Technology, Digital transformation, data lakes, AI and Machine Learning, data operations, digital business, data platforms, Analytics & Data, Streaming Data & Events
Data governance is an issue that impacts all organizations large and small, new and old, in every industry, and every region of the world. Data governance ensures that an organization’s data can be cataloged, trusted and protected, improving business processes to accelerate analytics initiatives and support compliance with regulatory requirements. Not all data governance initiatives will be driven by regulatory compliance; however, the risk of falling foul of privacy (and human rights) laws ensures that regulatory compliance influences data-processing requirements and all data governance projects. Multinational organizations must be cognizant of the wide variety of regional data security and privacy requirements, not least the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR became enforceable in 2018, protects the privacy of personal or professional data, and carries with it the threat of fines of up to 20 million euros ($22 million) or 4% of a company’s global revenue. Europe is not alone in regulating against the use of personally identifiable information (other similar regulations include The California Consumer Privacy Act) but Ventana Research’s Data Governance Benchmark Research illustrates that there are differing attitudes and approaches to data governance on either side of the Atlantic.