IT in Manufacturing

Five key shifts that are converging in today’s data era

April 2023 IT in Manufacturing

Data is the foundation of an intelligent business. But data, data consumers, and the business expectations of data have changed. These shifting realities call for a higher level of data maturity and the right technologies to achieve better outcomes, and to digitally differentiate. As every organisation races to transform, these five key shifts are converging in today’s data era:

1. Exponential growth of structured and unstructured data

Fuelled by an abundance of smart devices and IoT sensors, worldwide data creation has been soaring for more than a decade. A study from IDC cites that from 2021 – 2025, new data creation will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23%, resulting in approximately 175 Zettabytes (ZB) of data creation by 2025.

To put this into context, a single zettabyte is equivalent to a trillion gigabytes or as Wikipedia describes it, “a zettabyte is so large that it would take about a million supercomputers (or a billion powerful home computers) to store this amount of data”. Added to that, more data forms – including unstructured and streaming data types like loose files, PDFs, photos, audio and video clips – are growing at an unprecedented rate, and organisations are finding it hard to extract value from the data they’re collecting. The same IDC report states that 80% of worldwide data will be unstructured by 2025.

Finding a solution for managing unstructured data has been a challenge. Next-generation applications able to handle rapidly growing unstructured data typically require the extreme performance of all-flash storage, but budget pressures have made it hard for organisations to commit to the investment that these powerful systems require. Businesses will need powerful scale-out file storage solutions that are easy to scale and use, no matter how much unstructured data your environment must manage.

2. Emerging technologies are sparking a new era of intelligence at scale

Edge computing, 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are transforming how data is being collected, processed and used. For the first time in history, we’re meeting the explosion of data with intelligent infrastructure, software and algorithms to rapidly turn it into actionable information. This data can be used to create new value and drive better user experiences at the edge.

There’s a symbiotic relationship between the advanced, connected technologies being deployed to thrive in the digital economy, and the wealth of new data waiting to be uncovered. Likewise, there’s a symbiosis between success with edge technologies and data management. By enabling organisations to act on data near the source, edge technology can both improve efficiency and help create new experiences. Coupled with AI, the edge will change how machines share and react to data – and this is where businesses will find opportunities to create new value.

3. Decentralised data

The adoption of emerging technologies leads to more distributed locations where data originates. As data’s centre of gravity rapidly moves toward the edge, data is increasingly being stored, processed and acted on closer to its source. But as more functions take place at the edge, you need to manage data differently and consistently – from the core to across edge and hybrid clouds. That requires changes to your compute, network, storage and application architectures.

4. Rising consumer expectations

Today’s consumers are more empowered than ever and are demanding more data-rich, personalised, real-time experiences. In the past, you could take days to come up with new data insights, but today that’s far too long. The increasing reliance on AI and ML to make real-time decisions in a distributed environment can strain even the most advanced data management strategies. Most organisations don’t have the IT capabilities to keep up because their data management is fit for an outdated world where insights and outcomes can be delivered in hours or days. To be able to rapidly turn data into insights, organisations must evolve their expectations and data processing capabilities.

5. Data breaches vs. regulatory environment

Cybersecurity threats are more sophisticated, and the number of data breaches is skyrocketing. Consequently, the regulatory environment is evolving, mandating more resilient data security, privacy and governance. In South Africa, digital dependency is growing, causing regulatory complexities to rise exponentially. As more data is collected, stored and processed in multiple locations, the attack surface for malicious activity also grows, making compliance with global as well as local data laws and regulations more complex. In addition, customers want to do business with organisations they can trust with their data. These trends underscore the ways data users and consumers have changed, and how organisations are adapting to stay relevant.

In the new data era, simply being digital is no longer a differentiator

According to the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index, 91% of businesses agree that extracting valuable insights from data will be more important for their business than ever before. The Dell Technologies Data Paradox study indicates that 70% of organisations in South Africa intend to deploy machine learning to automate how they detect anomaly data, 52% are looking to move to a data-as-a-service model and 58% are planning to look deeper into the performance stack to rearchitect how they process and use data. Although the importance of extracting actionable insights from data is clear, organisations often lack confidence in their data veracity.

With such a tremendous influx of data, it is critical to be business-ready faster, accelerating data movement across the multi cloud landscape – turning insights into actions and driving speedy outcomes. Today we have zettabytes of data at our fingertips every second, but also intelligent compute infrastructure, software and algorithms to rapidly turn that data into meaningful insights. Now, more than ever, organisations need to rethink data management if they are to become an intelligent business with a leadership position in the data era.

For further information, contact Dell Technologies, 0860 102 577,

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