Who’s driving? Assembling tech and talent for data-driven enterprise

Information technology professionals praying automation won’t take their jobs should be careful what they wish for. Sure, in the next few years $1.6 billion worth of nondifferentiated labor will disappear from on-premises data centers, according to the True Private Cloud report from Wikibon.com. But as automation eats up rote tasks, digital transformation and data-driven business models will spew out new, much harder ones.

Stretching data from its warehouse to marketers and mobile applications will demand new tools and plenty of human brain cells. The main route to digitally transforming is through data.

“It’s an absolutely essential feature of the future digital business,” said Peter Burris (@plburris) (pictured, right), head of research at Wikibon Inc. and SiliconANGLE Media Inc.

To be clear, simply possessing data does not make a business data-driven. It must use data practically as an income-producing asset, Burris explained to John Furrier (@furrier) (pictured, left), host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio. Burris explained the challenges to becoming a digital business in a special interview at CA Technologies’ Cloud & Hybrid-IT Analytics for Digital Business event at theCUBE’s Palo Alto Studio in California. (* Disclosure below.)

The road to digitization is not well-traveled, and many are losing their way. “Google’s got a vision of it; Amazon’s got a vision of it. But not every business is those guys,” Burris said.

Facebook is another example; two former employees, Ashish Thusoo and Joydeep Sen Sarma, co-founders of Qubole Inc. have spilled some of the social network’s trade secrets. Their co-authored book, Creating a Data-Driven Enterprise With DataOps, details how data seeps through IT and business membranes. Synthesizing isolated data silos can be difficult and counterintuitive, unfortunately.

“The systems that do real-time are different from the systems that do analytics are different from the systems that do operational stuff,” Thusoo said while talking with theCUBE in June. The solutions, though, can encompass all of them.”

Data-driven paragons like Google and Facebook think of the internet as a computer they can process, according to Burris. These concepts of “internet scale computing and service; any data anytime, anywhere” are permeating Silicon Valley, he stated.

“[Chief Information Officers] increasingly want to think the same way. How do I have to think about my business relative to all the available resources that are out there?” Burris said. Executives want their companies to have access to a service or relevant data wherever it might be, and the question of how to move data looms large at these enterprises, Burris added.

“This is in many respects the architectural question in IT today: How do we think about the way we weave together all of these possible resources, possible combinations, into something that sustainably delivers business value in a coherent, manageable, predictable way?” he said.

Dynamite the data department

Anytime-anywhere data to drive business outcomes on demand remains out of reach to most, according to Burris. The challenges involve technology and also people and process. Breaking data and data science out of the “data department” of old may be the first order of business.

“The entire business is going to share claims against the capabilities of technology” Burris said. “Marketing’s going to lay a claim to it; sales is going to lay a claim to it; manufacturing and finance are going to lay claims to it.”

This means that data science will need to be democratized, but not anarchized. “Those claims have to be arbitrated,” Burris said. So it is not the end for departments — they will continue to exist in a more open, agile state.

“We’re going to sustain that notion of a group that delivers, while at the same time, everybody in the business is going to be participating more clearly in establishing the outcomes and how technology achieves those outcomes,” he said. “It’s a very dynamic world, and we haven’t figured out how it’s all going to come together.”

Likewise, the underlying technology enabling this is a work in progress. “We don’t know what the new computing model is going to look like,” Burris said. “The placement of data to the event is going to be crucial to achieving that event within the envelope of time that that event requires.”

Who’s driving?

Last week at VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas, VMware Inc. Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger said virtualized networks should move computing power to the data. “We can use age-old computer science tricks like caching, but ultimately these petabytes of data get to be very heavy,” Gelsinger said. “We have more and more flexibility to move the compute to the data wherever it is in the future.”

On the other end of the spectrum, WANdisco plc. is developing software that moves bulk data without the usual latency and integrity costs.

In the middle, there are companies like systems software developers CA Technologies Inc. The company is producing automated data monitoring and testing tools for hybrid on-prem and cloud environments.

“The notion of modern monitoring is to improve the visibility into everything as a holistic whole,” Burris said. If companies are to be truly data-driven, “it’s how all devices holistically come together, and the monitoring fabric that we put in place has to focus on that and not just the productivity of any one piece,” Burris added.

Easier said than done. Gartner Inc. researchers predict that by 2020, 90 percent of organizations will have to manage hybrid IT environments. This means more pieces of all types for them to somehow gel together. “Organizations that adopt hybrid infrastructure will optimize costs and increase efficiency. However, it increases the complexity of selecting the right toolset to deliver end-to-end services in a multi-sourced environment,” said DD Mishra, research director at Gartner.

“Ultimately, the only way out of it is the tooling is going to improve,” Burris said. These will be the new, simpler and more intelligent tools of the future IT workforce. Once mundane tasks are automated away, they can shift their focus to adding value with data via these new technologies.

“We expect to see significant advances in the productivity of an individual within an IT organization to support and sustain a digital business,” Burris concluded.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of CA Technologies’ Cloud & Hybrid-IT Analytics for Digital Business event. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for CA Technologies’ Cloud & Hybrid-IT Analytics for Digital Business event. Neither CA Technologies Inc., the event sponsor, nor other sponsors have editorial influence on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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