For the past 25 years, I’ve been lucky enough to work in the technology solutions industry and witness some truly exciting business trends. One of the most prominent in recent years has been the rise of data. Just under a third of all internet users come from EMEA, each one contributing to the quintillions of bytes of data created every minute. However, more than half of businesses aren’t making use of that data. With so much raw, untapped potential available to companies, why is so much valuable data left forgotten in data centres?
When I speak to our customers, it’s clear they understand the advantages of using data. They know that some of the most promising and profitable business opportunities are driven by data. They read about how valuable data is – after all five of the world’s largest six companies are data companies. And like many organizations all over the world, they start to gather as much as possible. But is data truly valuable if it’s not being utilized?
Unlocking the power of data is the next big challenge for CIOs. From my experience with the big data movement in EMEA, I see four key current business trends which are reliant on data.
Digital transformation has been one of the largest areas for investment among businesses in recent times, acting as a key driver to support growth through efficiency and innovation. According to IDG’s digital business study, 89% of organizations have adopted or have plans to adopt a digital-first business strategy. To truly benefit from digital transformation, data is required to help guide strategic IT investment decisions, as well as providing insight into which areas are performing as expected.
AI is huge consideration for our customers. According to Forrester, 70% of enterprises will implement the technology this year. When it comes to AI, a machine can only become as smart as the data you’re plugging into it. Just like with actual people, if you starve an AI of information, it will struggle to become clever. The more data is fed into the algorithms, the faster it can learn and refine its predictive analysis. Successful machine learning depends on large and broad data sets.
The relationship between data and AI is very much a two-way street. As AI gets smarter it can reveal patterns in a dataset which we wouldn’t be able to find ourselves. Unlike humans, an AI can simply look at what numbers correlate without any unconscious bias which helps to find relationships in huge datasets.
To say that IoT is a broad subject would be understating it somewhat. The number of opportunities that exists within this technology umbrella encompasses everything from manufacturing to healthcare. As the surge in IoT continues in the B2B space, tens of billions more data gathering devices are brought online, creating increasingly more data. With such large amounts of data comes the challenge of storing it. During a year where data regulations and breaches were rarely out of the news, how and where a business stores and uses data is a major consideration.
One sector we are seeing each of these aspects come together in EMEA is with smart cars, particularly in France and Germany. We are edging closer to the holy grail of connected cars – the fully autonomous vehicle, which requires an on-board system that not only processes incoming data in real-time, but also makes informed decisions. Getting to that point, however, requires the collection of millions of miles’ worth of data in order train the machine. Data will be the ultimate differentiator between the services that manufacturers come up with. In the connected car example, it will require a massive data set – we’re talking in the exabytes – to train the autonomous vehicles before they become a reality.
As one of the most promising times for businesses, I’m excited to see how we can help to navigate our customers towards a robust data strategy. The good news is that as technology rapidly rises to the top of the agenda, even more data will be used. During our presentation at the AI Summit, we predicted a 100 fold increase in data that actually goes into analytics come to pass. If this happens, we will likely see a boom of new capabilities and innovations across many industries across EMEA.
Ultimately, data remains the linchpin of our customers’ digital growth and strategies, helping to make services and products better around the world. To witness the true potential of current and future technology trends, businesses still have work to do on using the data we are gathering. Unlocking the power of data isn’t just a race to hoard information, it’s requires a holistic approach to data from capture to the data centre and then delivering it to the right systems at the right times.
A new dawn of immense possibility truly IS on the horizon!