Technology powers the data economy. Our research identified 10 attributes of an organization’s data infrastructure that enable it to take full advantage of the data economy, the global supply and demand for live data, data applications, and data services. But of the 1,000 IT and business leaders we surveyed, a minority of them reported having the necessary technology infrastructure to do the job. Only 28%, for instance, described their infrastructure as “scalable and elastic.” About a fifth of them (22%) can access and share live data in near real time without having to copy or move it. And only 19% can integrate external data from new sources in near real time. All these things are completely doable with a modern cloud data platform, so what’s holding people back?
Perhaps the case for committing to the data economy hasn’t been concise or compelling enough. Our study, How to Win in Today’s Data Economy, uncovered that Data Economy Leaders—those who do have the technology that allows for real-time sharing of live data, near-instant scalability and elasticity, and the ability to integrate data from marketplaces and third-party sources—are starting to show greater revenue growth than their peers. More than three quarters (77%) of Leaders reported revenue growth in these last few (very tough) years compared with just 36% of Data Economy Laggards (those surveyed who are the least far along); and 13% of Data Economy Leaders saw more than 10% growth in the past 3 years whereas only 2% of the Laggards reported gains in that range.
The top 10 attributes of data economy infrastructure, as evidenced by being most widely adopted by Data Economy Leaders, are the following: 1. Scalable and elastic; 2. Flexible and powerful; 3. Interoperable; 4. Global; 5. Collaborative; 6. Versatile; 7. Building data applications; 8. Secure, resilient, and governed; 9. Consumption-based; and 10. Hassle-free.
We’ll focus on three of these today—scalability, versatility, and building and monetizing data applications—touching on other attributes as we go.
Scalable and elastic
Data Economy Leaders are much more likely than Laggards to use one or more modern cloud-based platforms to deliver data-driven insights. Our research shows only 4% of companies surveyed still have their applications exclusively on premises; the rest (96%) are in the cloud. Yet, only 45% of Leaders stated that they use multiple cloud platforms to run a variety of applications, and 34% reported they use a mix of cloud and on-premises systems.
Data Economy Laggards are missing out on near-instant and infinite storage and computing capabilities that can scale up and down, on the fly, to manage a near-unlimited amount of data with concurrency and optimized performance. Fewer than one-third of the 240 IT and data management respondents in the survey (28%) said their data management solutions are easily scalable. Equally alarming, less than one-quarter of respondents said their solution lets them share, access, and integrate live data.
Scalable infrastructure is key to meeting global demand. Secure, governed data sharing across geographic boundaries, the business landscape of subsidiaries, and with partners is not possible without the cloud. Western Union was able to consolidate more than 30 data stores into Snowflake, reducing data warehousing costs by 85% and delivering a more seamless and efficient way to interact with its more than 55,000 agent locations to reconcile the data involved in daily transactions.
“We’re now able to share data on settlements with our agents and digital partners on a daily basis through the use of a private exchange,” said Tom Mazzaferro, Chief Data Officer at Western Union. “They don’t need to upload it anymore—they can just access it instantly and go. It’s more secure. It’s encrypted. And it enables us to keep and store data in a single place, rather than having it leave our firewall and our environment.”
Modern platforms need to be able to execute diverse analytic workloads that complement data collaboration, such as data warehousing, data lakes, data engineering, and data security. As companies strive to achieve that versatility, they must also pay attention to delivering data applications and services that are secure, governed, and resilient.
The best way to share data, for example, is to share live, near real-time data without having to copy it. A consumption-based pricing model makes it easy to use the cloud for your data needs in an efficient and highly elastic way. Interoperability between and across applications and infrastructure is another key hallmark of Data Economy Leadership; data professionals should be able to connect to nearly any complementary solution, so they can move data between the platform and critical enterprise, engineering, or point solutions. Notably, 100% of those who ranked as Data Economy Leaders said they can share and access data with organizations external to their own.
Technology isn’t just about infrastructure—it’s also about the tools and platforms provided to engineering, data scientists, and developer communities. The data economy grows because organizations require more data products and services to reveal previously unseen insights. The most advanced participants in the data economy have transformed their traditional business models by monetizing data, data-driven insights, data services, and data applications. Over one-third of those surveyed said they are using data to develop data products and services, while 38% said they are using data to optimize internal processes and streamline operations.
A company’s success as a Data Economy Leader, or its journey to becoming one, will be greatly enabled by making data app development easier. Many companies are even monetizing their data apps. Data marketplaces help companies share and market data applications and facilitate a secure, governed way to exchange data with public and private sources, so companies can bring insights from the broader ecosystem in house.
Marketing is an area where data apps, combined with real-time analytics, is truly driving innovation. An example is Sainsbury’s, the U.K.’s second-largest retailer, with more than 2,200 stores and a website that boasts more than one billion visits annually. With Snowflake, Sainsbury’s was able to launch a service that enables customers to instantly compare their prices to those of competitors.
People, Process, and Technology play synergistic and unique roles in Data Economy Leadership. We’ll continue to provide insightful articles from the report How to Win in Today’s Data Economy, including valuable perspectives from our customers, so stay tuned! Find more insight on how technology helps drive data economy leadership here.