Data Is the New Opex

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Click to learn more about author Mark Cassetta.

The data explosion is not news to anyone nor is the need to find faster, better and more secure ways to mine and manage it. However, the data wave may not have reached its apex. By 2025, IDC predicts that the collective sum of the world’s data will grow to 175 zettabytes, which is a compounded annual growth rate of 61 percent. It’s no surprise, then, that business as we know it is yet on the cusp of total data disruption; every industry in the world will soon be altered by data in some capacity.

So what does that mean for the data industry itself? Thus far, data has been seen as the “new oil,” and organizations have invested heartily in technologies to help harvest internal business data, customer information and other data for future profit. But as the industry transforms itself, instead of being a line item on the capital expense (capex) side of the house, data tech will continue to become more and more integrated into the back office and ultimately become a business-mandatory operating expense (opex). We already see this with the increasing number of businesses migrating data to the cloud.

As this transformation occurs, the way we secure our data will also shift. At this point, Data Management, Data Analytics and Data Security have been seen as separate entities within most organizations. But that’s about to change. Instead of access restriction, which is the first line of defense against cyberattacks for most organizations today, security will be built right into the data itself. The convergence of Data Management and Data Security will form a more integrated approach to data protection. And data will become the new opex.

Proactive versus Reactive Business

Business leaders must begin to think about how they will be impacted as data takes a more integrated position in the business. Over the past decade or so, businesses have spent more and more money trying to understand how the data explosion can help increase profits. Typically, that has meant investing in data applications to analyze data and crunch the numbers.

But today, if an organization isn’t looking for more efficient ways to preserve and manage their data, it faces a distinct competitive disadvantage. To cope with data disruption, proactive businesses are investing in smart data technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, to make use of their data assets to inform business decisions — including how to use it to reduce their operating expenses. In fact, according to the Gartner, Inc. 2019 CIO Survey, the number of enterprises implementing AI in some form grew 270 percent in the past four years, tripling in the last year.

In this way, data becomes a part of the business rather than solely an outcome of the business. Proactive organizations are also starting to think about data security in a completely new way. Restricting access will continue to be important, but rather than simply locking down network systems, businesses will need to make use of their data to power their security strategies.

Reactive businesses, on the other hand, will continue to invest in applications to help solve their data issues rather than leverage their data to help build a smarter business. They will ultimately spend more money than the proactive organizations, as they continue to throw more apps at their data security problems.

Change is Coming

So what does this convergence between Data Management and Data Security mean for the day-to-day operations of the enterprise? What does it mean for that same organization’s customers?

With data at the core of an organization’s operations, every department within a company will need to evolve to accommodate this new business paradigm. IT departments will ultimately turn into data shops as data becomes a back office staple. In IT security, we’ll see more and more data scientists helping train AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive their organization’s unique business and create tighter information security.

Machine Learning has been around awhile, helping organizations predict business trends, track customer preferences and perform other analytics — all of which are front office activities. But AI and Machine Learning are about to move into the back office, and Data Security will no longer be separate from Data Management.

As business operations evolve, customers may well see better service, more customized products and more personal and simplified interactions with business. ISVs will find new opportunities to transform their own business and new ways to serve their customers.

Security Will Also Evolve

Cybercrime has become more and more sophisticated, driving up security-related expenses. Organizations have numerous options when it comes to investing in applications to help secure their network systems and endpoints, but often these protections are still an afterthought. AI and particularly machine learning technologies will help make the apps more efficient and will enable automated capabilities that make use of the very data assets being protected.

Yes, data is making money for many organizations, but data will also SAVE them money — particularly when it comes to security. Rather than buy a new application Band-Aid every time a more advanced malware, virus or other cyberthreat emerges, companies can integrate protection into their data as it’s being created, as it is used and stored throughout their networks, and as it moves beyond organization walls via email and cloud technologies. Data breaches and the costs associated with them are likely to go way down.

With the use of intelligent data protection technologies that are built into the very way people work, information can be easily identified, classified and protected whether it resides on a server, is being sent via email or moving through an organization’s customer service application.

As data becomes an integrated back office asset, an organization’s people and their technologies can work smarter, not harder, to protect its most sensitive information. With deeper data integration, businesses will have more power and freedom to control their data on their own terms, rather than react to the latest cyberthreats.

Ultimately, saving time and money up front can only lead to even better business discoveries down the line.

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