Enterprises today typically have hundreds, even thousands of data silos. Each contains some important information, but is unable to provide a complete picture. As data continues to grow in size and shape, winners and losers will increasingly be decided by those who can access, search, analyze and easily share data, in real time, from those who cannot.

Recently, I was on an airline’s website booking a flight. When it came to conclude the transaction, I got an error and was told to call the support number (why me?). I called the number and prepared to wait and have a terrible customer service experience. The interactive voice response picked up on the second ring and asked if I was having trouble booking on the website. I said “yes” and was immediately transferred to an agent who knew the itinerary I wanted and helped me complete the booking. I was done in less than two minutes.

That airline’s ability to bring an event from their website into their call center in real time turned this bad experience into a customer service win that I’ll be talking about for some time. It is also an example of how accessing the right data at the right time creates value. In 2017, I predict we’ll see more winners and losers emerge based on the way that enterprises tackle challenges and opportunities in terms of: Keeping Data Lakes from Becoming Data Swamps

Companies have spent huge amounts of time and money building data lakes that now threaten to swamp them. They’re realizing that getting a massive amount of disparate data in one place is not enough. To break data out of silos and see a complete picture, that data must also be available, governable and queryable. The system needs to be able to dive into this data, recognize key objects and concepts in unstructured text, view coordinates as geospatial points, understand text and numbers and perform aggregate calculations in real time.

Being able to leverage data for operational value or business insights is no easy task. Gartner has estimated that 85% of companies fail to exploit their data to decisive competitive advantage. Balancing Cloud and Security

Enterprises will be looking for a “third way” between the competing tsunami trends of cloud and the need to keep data secure. Gartner estimates that more than 50% of global companies already store customer sensitive data in the cloud. By 2020, at least one-third of all data will pass through the cloud. The pendulum can’t swing back to on-premises data management. At the same time, the increasing security and privacy issues are putting enterprises in a tough spot. Finding Clear Wins in Predictive Analytics

Enterprises will find that it’s harder than they thought to bring together the data they want to use in their predictive models, especially unstructured data and the most important data of all: customer event data. Having the wrong data or asking the wrong questions will give them the wrong answers. They’ll need ways of modeling data that can help deliver better predictions and micro-segmentation strategies. Seeing Governance Drive Value

It’s common to view data governance as a tax, or something you have to do for compliance or regulatory reasons. In reality, good data governance is crucial to driving business value. Organizations that embrace data governance as an enabler will implement projects faster, with less risk, and less ongoing cost. To better position your organization as a winner in the data revolution, make sure you can:

  • Track your data over time. It is important to be able to go back in time and understand what you knew and when you knew it. Did you make decisions on incorrect data? How can you tell?
  • Query your data, search it and relate it, whether it’s structured or not.
  • Keep different values for the same data and tag it with metadata. Context and provenance are key to analysis.
  • Classify your data and alert on key findings in real-time.
  • Control and modify who is authorized to use your data and for what purpose.
  • Govern your data appropriately.

Mission critical enterprise data should be secure, private and compliant. It’s easy to be so focused on the technical challenges that we become blind to the true reality of our data. In The Matrix, Morpheus offers Neo a red pill that can free his mind from the tyranny of the machines and show him what’s really possible.
Today, we have a choice to take the red pill—to embrace a new approach to data integration that breaks through the limitations of the past. It’s time to free your mind and think differently about your data. You’ll never think of data integration the same way again.

(About the author: David Gorbet is senior vice president of engineering at MarkLogic. He manages the team that delivers the MarkLogic product and works with engineers as they pour their passion into the NoSQL database for enterprise. Prior to MarkLogic, David helped pioneer Microsoft’s business online services strategy by founding and leading the SharePoint Online team.)

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